Center of Excellence for Learning in Education, Science and Technology A National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center

Jeff Markowitz

Jeff MarkowitzJeff Markowitz came to the Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems (CNS) with a background in philosophy and cognitive science. As an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University he studied the philosophy of mind, mathematical logic, and computational linguistics. After graduating, he worked on both experimental design and modeling, in the process becoming increasingly interested in computational aspects of neuroscience.

In his first semester at CNS he became interested in the neurophysiology of vision, and with Stephen Grossberg he worked on a model of the ventral cortical stream, or the “What” stream, to help explain how neurons in inferotemporal cortex (IT) learn to perform position-invariant object recognition. The model was finished at the end of his second year, and he presented the work at the Society for Neuroscience meeting; an article is currently under review. While working on the model, Jeff developed an interest in electrophysiology and took lab courses in neurobiology and neurophysiology. Given the nature of his research and coursework, he was encouraged as a CELEST-supported student to pursue his interests in an experimental setting. In his third year of graduate training Jeff is therefore working in the laboratory of Timothy Gardner in Boston University’s Department of Biology.

Now Jeff is studying the formation of neural circuits that underlie the learning and production of vocalizations in songbirds. The role of spontaneous neural activity is an important aspect of his latest modeling work on the early visual pathway and his present work in the lab. His current project will integrate a number of experimental methods including multi-electrode recordings, transgenics, the perturbation of single neurons through channelrhodopsin, and computational methods. He is excited by the opportunity that CELEST affords to marry his theoretical and experimental interests in the science of learning.

Last updated on May 18, 2011