Brain study

The Intelligent Systems Research Centre at the Magee Campus of UlsterUniversity has won over £1.5m in funding to research brain modelling and develop a new Computational Neuroscience Research Team.

Computational neuroscientists attempt to create models of how the brain processes, stores and uses information. An improved understanding of neural processing is an essential pre-requisite for the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses, as well as being important for the development of intelligent computational machines.

The Computational Neuroscience Research Team is one of five research projects at UlsterUniversity to benefit from the £7.7m allocated by the Department for Employment and Learning under its Cross Border R&D Funding Programme. All five projects will be undertaken in collaboration with partner universities in the Republic of Ireland.

Director of the Intelligent Systems Research Centre, Prof Martin McGinnity, said that the project would bring together the expertise of two complementary research centres – the Intelligent Systems Research Centre (ISRC) at Magee and Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience (TCIN) at Trinity College Dublin.

‘The project will address the study of brain research from what would traditionally be considered two diverse ends of the research spectrum, with the ISRC addressing the problem from an engineering and computing perspective and TCIN from a psychological, neuroscientific and medical approach. This project will allow us to integrate our advanced computational intelligent systems expertise with the leading-edge neuroscience work being performed at Trinity,’ said Prof McGinnity.

‘As a result of this funding, by early 2009 we expect to have an additional three research fellows, six associate researchers and three PhD students, with the appointment of a new Professor of Computational Neuroscience to follow by March 2009,’ he added.

The ISRC has been involved in previous collaborative research projects with TCD and other universities, but this will be the first to focus specifically on computational neuroscience.