ECBM E4070 Computing with Brain Circuits of Model Organisms

Course Benefits

    Provides an introduction to elements of the functional logic of the fruit fly brain.
    Focuses on the intuitive understanding of
(i) Functional Map of the Fruit Fly Brain,
(ii) From Odorant Transduction to Learning and Memory in Early Olfaction, and
(iii) From Sensory Coding in Early Vision to Directing Movement.
    Enables the further exploration of the field of computing with brain circuits.

Professor Lazar

    His primary research interests focus on the molecular architecture and functional logic of the brain of model organisms with a strong emphasis on the fruit fly brain. Leading projects in:
1. Building Interactive Computing Tools for the Fruit Fly Brain Observatory,
2. Computing with Fruit Fly Brain Circuits,
3. Creating NeuroInformation Processing Machines.
    Further information about the instructor is available under URL:

Applicable Degree Programs

Most courses 4000-level and above can be credited to all degree programs. All courses are subject to advisor approval. For related courses see the optional MS Concentration in Systems Biology and Neuroengineering and Concentration in Data-Driven Analysis and Computation, both offered by the Department of Electrical Engineering.

Lecturer: Professor Aurel A. Lazar
  Office hours: Tuesdays, 4:00 - 6:00 PM, EST, Room 819 Schapiro
  E-mail address: aurel "at"
  Class Web Site: Offered by CourseWorks
  Office hours: Fridays, 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM (Subject to Change), EST, @EE Student Lounge (1300 Mudd)
  E-mail address: tab "at"
Day and Time: Mondays, 7:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Class Location: Online
Credits for course: 3 points
Prerequisites ELEN E3801 Signals and Systems or Biology W3004 Neurobiology I: Cellular and Molecular Biology plus Python programming experience or the instructor’s approval. Prior exposure to interactive computing (e.g., JupyterLab) is a plus. Background in computational neuroscience (e.g., BMEB W4020) and/or deep learning (e.g., ECBM E4040) is recommended but it is not a prerequisite.
Description: The Functional Map of the Fruit Fly Brain
Modeling the brain of model organisms with an emphasis on the fruit fly. The Fruit Fly Brain Observatory. Structural modeling of the Drosophila brain using cell-type, connectome, synaptome and activity maps. Building the functional map of the fruit fly brain with FlyBrainLab.
From Sensory Coding in Early Vision to Directing Movement
Pathways and Circuits of the Early Visual System. Molecular Transduction and Spatio-Temporal Encoding in the Drosophila Retina. Contrast Gain Control in the Photoreceptor and Amacrine Cell Layer. Canonical Motion Detection Circuits. The Functional Role of the Central Complex. Canonical Navigation Circuits in the Central Complex.
From Odorant Transduction to Learning and Memory in Early Olfaction
Pathways and Circuits of the Early Olfactory System. Molecular Transduction and Combinatorial Encoding in the Drosophila Antenna. Predictive Coding in the Antennal Lobe. The Functional Role of the Mushroom Body. Canonical Circuits for Associative Learning and Memory in the Mushroom Body.
Projects in Python
RCMD Text: Lectures Notes (slides) will be made available on CourseWorks.
Homework(s): 6, mostly writing Python code for execution on CPUs or executing Python code modules on GPUs.
Paper(s): ---
Project(s) TBA
Midterm exam: Project I: TBA
Final Exam: Project II: TBA
Grading The final grade has three components: 1/5 homework, 2/5 project [I] and 2/5 project [II].
Hardware REQS: Laptop for demos.
Software REQS: Python
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