An interdisciplinary initiative
Indian Institute of Technology Madras
The aim of the proposed center is to contribute to the development of new techniques and tools for mathematical modelling and analysis of complex dynamical systems and to investigate some of the challenging dynamical problems in climate science, neuroscience, biological systems, multi-physics systems and active flows.
In addition to enhancing to fundamental understanding of the universal features, which contribute to similar phenomena across a diversity of systems, the effort will also focus on translating into delivering technology that is useful in industrial and societal contexts.
This center is envisaged as an interdisciplinary center drawing on expertise from science, engineering and humanities disciplines to develop the expertise and synergy required for the proposed outcomes.
Dr. Vignesh Muralidharan
Aronlab of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of California San Diego, USA
In everyday life, we encounter situations where we need to control our actions, urges, thoughts, and emotions to achieve both short and long-term goals. For instance, one would have to control the urge to eat junk food while on a diet. One such form of executive control, referred to as inhibitory control, is the ability to stop or suppress unwanted actions and provocations from occurring, especially in situations where there is a strong pull toward them. There are different contexts where this form of control might be needed. In some scenarios, one might have to stop already initiated actions in reaction to external cues (reactive control), thus driving top-down control processes, e.g., stopping yourselves from stepping onto the street when you see a car rushing towards you. In other cases, one might have to prepare in advance to set up mental states that can aid in stopping (proactive control), e.g., stopping anxious thoughts before an important exam. Multiple lines of evidence have shown that such forms of inhibitory control involve brain networks that include prefrontal, basal ganglia, and sensorimotor regions. In my talk, I will outline the ways in which we probed the neural correlates of control in these brain regions as people attempted to stop initiated actions or induced brain states that aid stopping. I will also explain how our findings using high temporal resolution electrophysiology, functional brain stimulation, and computational modeling approaches revealed the dynamics of these regions and the role of specific oscillatory (beta-band) rhythms while people exert these forms of control. I will finally discuss how these findings form the precursors for future research aimed at developing strategies that can aid people’s ability to control their actions and thoughts. This could potentially lead to applications that target behavioral deficits in impulse-control disorders like Parkinson’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety-related disorders.
Vignesh Muralidharan, is a cognitive and computational neuroscientist with expertise in the domain of human cognitive and motor control. He did his Ph.D. at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras under the guidance of Prof. Srinivasa Chakravarthy where he worked on conceptualizing and building brain-inspired computational models to explain gait control in normal people and its deficits in Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder. His doctoral experience piqued his interest in understanding the influence of top-down cognitive processes on our actions. He subsequently did his post-doctoral training at the Department of Psychology, University of California San Diego with Prof. Adam Aron, where he has been studying how humans override inappropriate responses and impulses and the brain mechanisms underlying them. His research involves designing tasks mimicking real-world scenarios of control in the lab and gaining insights into the mechanisms of cognitive control by looking at brain activity and functionally stimulating brain areas while people perform these tasks. His passion is to further the understanding of human self-control and develop neurotechnology applications that can aid or enhance cognitive control abilities.
LIVE link to talk
The Indian Institute of Technology Madras is the #1 ranked institute according to the National Institute Ranking Format (NIRF) for the last 5 years in succession and is recognised as an Institute of National Importance. IIT Madras, located in the sea-side city of Chennai, was established in 1959 and was the third IIT established by the Government of India. It is a residential institute that occupies about 2.5 sq km campus which was earlier a part of the Guindy National Park. The lush green campus is home to many flora and fauna, including the iconic black buck which is an endangered species.