Carnegie Mellon University
March 09, 2015

Columbia Neuroscientist Larry Abbott To Deliver Carnegie Mellon’s 2015 Buhl Lecture March 18

By Jocelyn Duffy / 412-268-9982 /

Larry AbbottLarry Abbott, the William Bloor Professor of Theoretical Neuroscience and co-director of the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University, will present Carnegie Mellon University’s annual Buhl Lecture at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 18 in the Mellon Institute Auditorium, 4400 Fifth Ave., Oakland. His lecture, “Learning to Predict: Studies of Neural Circuits in Fish and Flies,” is free and open to the public.

Reacting properly to sensory inputs and knowing the potential consequences of an action is crucial to survival. An animal needs to know what sights, sounds and smells lead to a dangerous or advantageous situation, and how their actions will impact the likelihood of receiving an award, or put them in a perilous situation.

In his lecture, Abbott will discuss research into two neural circuits: one that allows flies to interpret the implications of different odors, and another that predicts the consequences of motor actions in an electric fish. This research provides key insights into understanding how the brain computes and allows for the construction of predictive models of brain function.

Abbott received his Ph.D. in physics at Brandeis University in 1977 and spent 10 years working in theoretical particle physics. His research in neuroscience involves the mathematical modeling and analysis of neurons and neural networks using analytic techniques and computer simulations to show how populations of neurons interact to produce functional circuits with the goal of determining the mechanisms by which networks of neurons represent, store and process information. Abbott is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and is the co-author of a widely used textbook on theoretical neuroscience.

The Buhl Lecture is sponsored by Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Physics. The lecture is funded under the auspices of the Buhl Professorship in Theoretical Physics, which was established at Carnegie Mellon in 1961 by The Buhl Foundation.