About this Research Topic
As several major BRAIN initiatives have been getting under way that have focused on tool development, large-scale data-collection, and model building, perhaps this is the right time to ponder the question: Imagine if all the molecular and cellular parts were made available, what is the basic design principle that evolution and development should employ in constructing brains? What are the basic circuitry-level motifs or computational primitives that the brain uses to generate real-time perception, memory, and knowledge?
This Research Topic calls for the submission of papers related to general theories, novel approaches, and crucial observations related to neural coding research. We term this specific effort as the Brain Decoding Research Project. We provide several examples of the kinds of goals this Brain Decoding Project envisions: What is the brain’s basic wiring and computational logic? What are real-time neural codes? How should cell assemblies organize themselves? How are cell-assembly dynamics regulated and modified by development, synaptic plasticity, and learning experiences? How is neural coding modulated by network oscillations? How do various slow neurotransmitters, illicit drugs, and pharmacological reagents alter real-time neural dynamics and cognitive behaviors? How do different brain regions coordinate their dialogues and produce specific behaviors? What kind of physiological activity biomarkers are associated with mental disease processes in both rodent and primate models?
From a theoretical perspective, we encourage novel ideas and concepts in general theories that can be universally applied to many neural circuits across different perceptions, cognitive modalities, and animal species. We also call for new ideas that can overcome the current limitation of rate codes and/or temporal codes at the individual neuron level because huge variations in firing occur during both the “control” resting states and across different trials within the same experiment.
With regards to technological and experimental aspects, we welcome the submission of exciting work that includes historical reviews, emerging new methodologies, computational and informatics tools, data-sharing efforts, and innovative behavioral protocols. In particular, we encourage researchers to report crucial negative observations or technological caveats that may produce unexpected disruptions to cellular patterns and network dynamics that can alter interpretation of results and related conclusions.
In addition, we strongly believe that knowing what brain networks are not doing can be as essential as knowing to what networks are responding. This Research Topic welcomes papers that can inform the community about neural circuits in which a given set of stimuli or protocols failed to trigger significant firing changes or local field potential oscillations. By systematically generating such crucial positive and negative results, the Brain Decoding Research community can have a balanced and unbiased view of what the brain is doing and not doing.
In this regard, we also call for papers that will stimulate discussions on the new funding mechanisms in the BRAIN Project that will encourage and reward researchers who explore “unconventional or even crazy” experimental protocols and do “naïve” fishing expeditions. Such “thinking-outside-of-the-box” approaches may bring the unexpected transformation in our understanding of how the brain works.
Keywords: BRAIN Project, Brain Decoding Project, Brain Activity Mapping, Neural Code, Wiring and computational Logic
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