Dr. Andre Fenton
|B.Sc. Biology||McGill University, Montreal||Gerald Pollack||neurobiology of crickets|
|Research Assistant||Institute of Physiology, Prague||Bureš lab||interhemispheric transfer of information|
|Ph.D.||SUNY Downstate||neurons involved in navigation and spatial memory|
|Laboratory Head||Institute of Physiology, Prague||Dept. Neurophysiology of Memory||Invented rotating arena tasks, place cell overdispersion and during navigation|
|Breakthrough in neuroscience||SUNY Downstate||With Dr. Todd Sacktor||importance of protein kinase M zeta for maintaining memory and long-term potentiation|
|co-founded Bio-Signal Group||medtech company||develops and sells miniaturized electroencephalography (EEG) machines and easy-to-use electrodes to assess brain function by measuring electrical brain activity from the scalps of people|
|Professor of neural science||New York University||Neurobiology of Cognition Laboratory||molecular, neural, behavioral and computational aspects of memory|
Talk title: Cognition in the noise: remembering, remapping, and reframing cognition dynamics
How do we learn and know? For much of my career it was assumed that neurons respond to external stimuli as if to represent them, but an equally plausible model asserts that neuronal activity is fundamentally internally-organized and instead fit to external features. I will report on our investigations of acquired cognition through studies of spatially-tuned cells in the medial entorhinal cortex and hippocampus. We started with the “noise,” uncertainty of spatially tuned action potential discharge, a clue that cognitive variables might be in that noise. I’ll then discuss the discharge of head-direction cells in the medial entorhinal cortex, which remain internally-organized during navigation, despite their apparent loss of directional tuning to external features. We will then briefly consider how cognitive control training causes learning to learn and persistently altered information processing across synaptic populations of the entorhinal-hippocampal system. Finally, I will discuss recent studies of the remapping phenomenon, in which place fields rearrange according to cell-specific rules when the environment changes. A number of observations challenge the concept of ‘remapping,’ suggesting instead that hippocampal neural activity is ‘reregistered’ because network activity is fundamentally internally-organized such that cofiring relationships amongst the cells are largely invariant across distinct environments, despite the cell-specific rearrangement of place fields. Collectively these studies promote a view that rather than represent external information, subjective, internally-organized activity in the entorhinal-hippocampal circuit is actively fit to the environment for processing information that enables navigation and serves cognition.
About Dr. Andre Fenton:
Dr. Andre Fenton and his group are investigating the role of the hippocampus in controlling how we choose relevant information to process, by studying the interaction of memories and neural activity in signaling information from multiple spatial frames. While rats and mice solve problems that require using relevant information and ignoring distractions, they make recordings from multiple sites and use computational tools to decode information from these recordings about cognitive variables like current location, memory, attention, and cognitive control. Evidence from this work suggests that neural activity is exquisitely coordinated on multiple time scales from milliseconds to minutes, so that neurons that represent the same information discharge together in time, but are desynchronized when representing conflicting information. They are studying specific disturbances of this neural coordination in rat and mouse models of schizophrenia, intellectual disability, autism, depression, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury.
They have developed an inexpensive, miniature, wireless digital device for recording electrical brain activity from rats that have spontaneous seizures and abnormalities of neural coordination. Together with business and engineering partners, they founded Bio-Signal Group Corp. and have developed their brain-recording technology for medical applications in both conventional and novel clinical settings.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, André organized a volunteer group that designed and implemented a CPAP-Oxygen helmet treatment for COVID-19 in Nigeria and other LMICs and founded Med2.0 to use information technology for the patient-centric coordination of behavioral health services that is desperately needed to equitably deliver care for mental health.
André hosts “The Data Set” a new web series launching this winter on how data and analytics are being used to solve some of humanity’s biggest problems.