Anthony N. Burkitt
Biomedical Engineering, University of Melbourne, Australia
Title: Predictive coding through time: Real-time temporal alignment of neural activity in neural circuits
The real-time temporal alignment hypothesis postulates that information of sensory signals is transmitted through neural pathways in a manner that compensates for neural transmission delays at each stage of the pathway. These neural transmission delays result from both synaptic delays and the time required for action potential conduction via axons. For sensory inputs that change in a predictable fashion, their representation at higher levels of the processing hierarchy remain aligned with the stimulus. Neural information that is fed backwards from higher to lower levels of the hierarchy is realigned in time through a synaptic plasticity mechanism based upon nonlinear Hebbian learning and normalization at each level of the hierarchically structured network. These predictions from the higher levels of the pathway are thereby able to be fed backwards without becoming increasingly misaligned over time with the incoming sensory input. Examples from visual motion processing indicate that such neural processing is plausible and is consistent with the psychophysically observed results of several known motion-position illusions.
Professor Anthony Burkitt holds the Chair in Bio-Signals and Bio-Systems in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne since 2007. His research encompasses a number of areas of neuroscience and medical bionics, including computational neuroscience, neuroengineering, retinal-implant vision processing, cochlear-implant speech processing and bio-signal processing for epilepsy. His research has made significant contributions to understanding the behaviour and function of neural information processing in the brain, encompassing both neural coding and spike-timing synaptic plasticity. His work has also been instrumental in the development of visual stimulation paradigms for retinal implants, new cochlear implant speech processing strategies, methods for detecting and predicting seizures, and the use of electrical stimulation for seizure abatement in epilepsy. He was the Director of Bionic Vision Australia (2010-2016), a Special Research Initiative in Bionic Vision Science and Technology of the Australian Research Council (ARC), and he successfully led the project though all of its phases: Project conception, securing $50million in ARC funding, the research and development programs that led to the development of a prototype bionic eye (suprachoroidal retinal implant), the successful implantation in three patients, and the establishment of the company Bionic Vision Technologies (BVT) with US$18million of venture capital for the ongoing commercial and clinical development of the technology.