Speaker information

My research is focused on neuroengineering, which is emerging field at the intersection of neuroscience and technology, seeking to understand the brain through the development of new technologies. The approach has two main agendas. Firstly, to understand the brain by building models and physical implementations, and secondly to build models of the brain to create new technologies. Hence my work is a complex research activity that is intimately involved in both the life and physical sciences which currently operates largely through collaboration with biologists.

Neuroengineering has an important place in understanding the brain, as we face a mountain of largely isolated empirical observations of the brain which desperately require synthesis and interpretation. My approach is to build physical implementations of specific target regions of the nervous system, constrained by these empirical data, whilst explicitly testing, quantifying and measuring their relationship to brain function by placing them firmly within a systems engineering and operational context.

Neuroengineering research not only acts as a proof of our understanding of specific brain centres and subsystems, but also produces a tangible technological outcome with well specified performance criteria. This technological outcome of the neuroengineering approach is highly relevant to our search for more flexible and adaptive information and sensing technologies. My work follows the solutions that the brain adopts to information processing and sensing not because they are necessarily optimal, but that billions of years of evolution has generated efficient and robust sensorimotor information processing solutions adapted to the physical laws of the world around us. This aspect has been crucial in my being able to attract significant external research income (over £1M over 4 years) to conduct my research.