Our research interests, though eclectic, all spiral around a core question: “What is the physical and systemic basis for creativity and intelligent behavior and how could such behavior be practically constructed or reconstructed?” This core query has significance on several levels. The basic science significance lies with the value in determining the fundamental processes and organizational principles that give rise to intelligent behavior. However there are important clinical applications that relate to the molecular and cellular processes of brain damage, potential mechanisms for protection, and recovery of lost function in ischemia, status epilepticus, and neurodegenerative disease.
Our research program uses a unified, theoretical model based on a systems-dynamics approach to explore the mechanisms underlying nervous system behavior. This model uses observable behaviors which characterize the state of the system onto a manifold whose topology is related to a set of potential energy equations. These underlying equations are parameterized in terms of a set of variables, such as synaptic strength, number, decay constants, and neuromodulation. These intelligence-modeling equations of state are nested in a hierarchical fashion so that each manifold abstracts and processes information from preceding levels, feeding the resultant behavioral state as input into the next system level. The model has the advantage that it allows processes from the levels of membrane biophysics and channel gating to be related through neural systems to social models, such as a model of education and learning. The parameterization through state observables, coupling variables, and potential energy equations provides a rigorous method that can be subjected to close experimental scrutiny and testing.
This unified theoretical model is used in research investigations at four levels: