Friday 24th Feb 2012 – Prof Yaochu Jin

Prof Yaochu Jin – University of Surrey

Self-Organization of Neural Systems – An Evolutionary and Developmental Perspective

Understanding self-organization of biological nervous systems is key to understanding cognition. This talk presents our recent research efforts on understanding neural self-organization from the evolutionary and developmental point of view. A computational model is built up for co-evolving the development of the neural system and body plan of an animat based on primitive organisms such as hydra and flatworm. The neural and morphological development is simulated with a multi-cellular system governed by a gene regulatory network. Our results suggest that energy efficiency might be the most important constraint in neural self-organization. In addition, a close coupling between the evolution of the neural system and body plan is revealed.

A framework for modelling activity-dependent neural plasticity is briefly discussed in the second part of the talk, where the BCM plasticity rule is regulated by a gene regulatory network. The gene regulated BCM rule is adopted for training spiking neural networks. We demonstrate how activity-dependent neural plasticity can improve the network’s ability for spatiotemporal pattern recognition.

Yaochu Jin is a Professor of Computational Intelligence, Department of Computing, University of Surrey, UK, where heads the Nature Inspired Computing and Engineering (NICE) Group. Before joining Surrey, he was a Principal Scientist and Group Leader with the Honda Research Institute Europe in Germany. His research interests include computational approaches to a systems-level understanding of evolution, learning and development in biology, and bio-inspired methods for solving complex engineering problems. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed journal and conference papers.

Prof. Jin has delivered 14 invited keynote speeches on morphogenetic robotics, developmental neural systems, modeling, analysis and synthesis of gene regulatory networks, evolutionary aerodynamic design optimization and multi-objective learning at international conferences. He is a Fellow of British Computer Society and Senior Member of IEEE.


School of Computing, Robert Gordon University, St Andrew Street, Aberdeen, Lecture Room C48, 14:15 – 15:15.

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School of Computing Science and Digital Media, Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland
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