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Department of Bioengineering Seminar Series: Cellular circuits for probabilistic inference

February 12 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Shillman Hall, Room 105  (+ Google Map)

Department of Bioengineering

Yarden Katz, Ph.D. Departmental Fellow in Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston MA
“Cellular circuits for probabilistic inference”

Animals learn from their past experiences with the environment and use this knowledge to guide future action. Cognitive scientists and neuroscientists have described this process using the language of probabilistic inference, and probabilistic inference has also been a useful framework for data analysis. However, it remains unclear how probabilistic inference can be realized biologically. Unlike traditional computers, biochemical circuits, of the sort found in single-celled organisms, are stochastic and lack a “centralized” processor. I will present two case studies of how these features of biochemical circuits lend themselves to supporting probabilistic inference. This approach could lead us to search for mechanisms of inference in natural circuits and may also illuminate the design of adaptive synthetic circuits.
Yarden Katz is a departmental fellow in Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School. He received his PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from MIT in 2014.