Researches at the Technion approach the study of brain and mind through a merging of neuroscience, cognitive science and engineering.
Organisms acting in the real world achieve unprecedented levels of performance in many complex tasks using multi-level modular networks of slow, noisy, and highly variable elements, interacting through continually changing communication channels. In spite of the impressive recent success in achieving biological-level performance in multiple domains, based on networks of artificial neurons learning through interaction with the environment, current engineering practice still lags far behind biological systems in its flexibility, robustness and multi-faceted nature of their functionality in tasks such as pattern recognition, learning ,motor control and decision making under uncertainty. In line with the growing recognition of the importance of brain research to understanding the success and behavioral richness of organisms, and the impressive success of biologically inspired artificial learning systems, scientists from different Technion faculties (Medicine, EE, Physics, Chemistry, BME, ME, Biology, CS, CE, IE, Edu) have joined forces to study the brain.
The basic driving force behind the brain research groups is the realization that no single approach is able to advance a functionally oriented systems level perspective of brain and behavior, which is both experimentally viable and conceptually deep and coherent. The Technion’s diverse and multidisciplinary brain research community includes people working at practically every level of the rain-behavior organization, from synapses and dendrites, to single cells and large-scale networks in vitro, in vivo (behaving animals and humans) and “in silico”.
The groups’ efforts have also given rise to a joint graduate studies program, a joint seminar series, an invited lecture series, an annual retreat and international workshops. Students from multiple disciplines (life sciences, physical sciences and engineering) are often located within the same physical laboratory space, interacting on a daily basis, and collaborating in research.
The Technion has an unmatched position within (and outside) Israel in neuro-engineering, and is recognized as a leader in the application of engineering methods and principles to the study of neural systems. Indeed, several successful companies stemmed from the Technion’s activity in this field over the years (e.g., BrainsGate, Camelot, Cortica, Elminda, GeneGrafts, Novocure, ReWalk).