Reverse Engineering the Fly
The outstanding performance and robustness of biological visual systems in real-world situations is giving rise to a new generation of man-made vision systems based on biomimetic principles. However, the details of biological visual organization are not readily accessible in textbooks. This course will teach a computational approach to the study of biological visual systems, focusing on the fly (Diptera) as an example case, and referring to primates for comparison. To generate an appreciation for the real-world behavior of neuronal systems, students may have an opportunity to observe live demonstrations of electrophysiology in flies, dragonflies, and grasshoppers (as time allows). Homeworks (upon which the course will be graded) will include development of Matlab scripts to implement models of the visual system. This course will emphasize the strong commonalities between insect and human vision. This course is designed to be accessible to students from a wide variety of backgrounds from engineering to biology, and will include introductory material to bring students from all backgrounds to the level of understanding required to do the homeworks. Students will complete the course with a solid foundation in the principles of visual system organization and with a set of Matlab scripts implementing these principles.