March 6, 2023

Understanding information processing in the brain

Gordon Pipa new FIAS Fellow

FIAS has been able to recruit the neuroinformatician Prof. Dr. Gordon Pipa as a new Fellow. The Chair of Neuroinformatics and Director of the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Osnabrück focuses on information processing in the brain. In doing so, he uses methods ranging from mathematical description and computer-based methods to machine learning and artificial intelligence.

The aim of his research is to understand the principles of neuronal information propagation and to implement them in artificial systems. In doing so, his group primarily investigates information processing by nerve cells. They use very short electrical impulses, the action potentials. This property of our brain makes it possible to implement information processing extremely efficiently, also with regard to the necessary energy consumed by the system. A special role is played by the collection of incoming information in the dendrite - fibrous extensions of the nerve cells that function like complex antennae of the system. 

Piba's research group investigates the processing of information in the dendrite and creates conceptual models to understand the function of dendritic information processing in the context of the large neuronal network. In addition, neuroinformatics deals with the experimental methods of virtual reality, sleep research, especially lucid dreaming, the emergence of intelligence in cognitive systems, and machine learning to infer dynamic systems on experimentally observed data. In this area, the group is currently modelling the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19, with unprecedented spatial resolution.

Pipa studied in Frankfurt am Main and was a junior fellow at FIAS many years ago; he later conducted research at MIT in Cambridge, and at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston (USA). "Research is the fulfilment of my life's dream," says Pipa. He enjoys trying every day, together with others, to understand concepts of information processing in complex systems like our brain. "This is how we make new, better and more efficient technologies possible".