Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Back From Boston

I got back from Boston on Sunday, and it was a pretty exhausting, but interesting, conference. Neuroscience was probably the main influence, but I was kind of surprised to find many electrical engineers and a strong engineering focus to many of the talks and posters. For example, one of the plenary speakers was R. Stanley Williams from Hewlett Packard Laboratories speaking to us about the memristor.

Unfortunately, a lot of the content, while interesting, wasn't all that directly related to the focus of my current research. The most relevant talk was by James DiCarlo of MIT. He gave a talk about this work, which focuses on the hypothesis that temporal contiguity of visual stimuli is the key mechanism in forming invariant representations, an idea very much in line with the ideas in Jeff Hawkins' book. In 2005 they used an image swapping paradigm to demonstrate the effect in humans, and this most recent work uses cell recordings from monkeys using the same paradigm. I'll probably end up referencing this work in my dissertation.

I got to see some of the luminaries in the field, but by the third day I was pretty exhausted. They pretty much had a full schedule from 8:30 in the morning until 7 or 8 each night. I did get to see a bit of Boston on the last day, and I walked around the Boston University campus and visited Harvard Square.

All in all it was a very good trip and a solid conference.

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