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$5.3M NIH Grant Allows UMD Researchers to Delve Into Brain’s Workings

By Maryland Today Staff

Three University of Maryland researchers have received $5.3 million for their roles in a 5-year “BRAIN Initiative” project funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Electrical and computer engineering Assistant Professor Behtash Babadi, biology Professor Patrick Kanold and physics Professor Wolfgang Losert, members of UMD’s Brain and Behavior Initiative, are part of an 11-investigator team that aims to revolutionize our understanding of brain function. The project, “Readout and control of spatiotemporal neuronal codes for behavior,” is intended to provide a unifying account of how brain activity and behavior are mutually informing, resulting in a clearer picture of how the brain operates in real time.

The multi-institutional project is funded by a $20 million U19 center grant—among the largest that the NIH awards. The multidisciplinary team, led by neurobiology Professor John Maunsell of the University of Chicago, is composed of computational and systems neuroscientists, physicists and engineers. Other participating institutions include the National Institute of Mental Health, the New York University School of Medicine, the Universidad Nacional de San Martín in Argentina and the Instituto Italiano di Tecnologia.

From UMD, Losert is working to streamline and centralize the data collection, analysis, and experimental design seamlessly across the various scientific projects. Kanold heads a science project with the goal of establishing causal links between neural activity and behavior. Babadi is in charge of neural modeling, statistical data analysis, and model-based experimental design for three science projects, and is contributing data science tools to the Data Science Core.

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