Cognitive Computational Neuroscience Group Maastricht

Studying sensorimotor integration from the perspective of neural dynamics and artificial intelligence

The CCN Group, co-headed by Prof. Rainer Goebel and Dr. Mario Senden, is part of the Department of Cognitive Neuroscience at Maastricht University and studies the cortical perception-action loop from an interdisciplinary perspective. Our research aims to understand how the brain processes sensory information and generates appropriate motor outputs through the sensorimotor loop. Our work is built on three pillars: goal-driven deep learning, biophysical modeling and data-driven model discovery.

Goal-driven deep learning is a key aspect of our research, where we aim to develop computational models that can perform tasks in a goal-directed manner, similar to how humans and animals process information. In addition to traditional deep learning methods, we also utilize goal-driven reinforcement learning in conjunction with simulated bodies and environments. This approach enables us to uncover the neurocomputational mechanisms by which the brain controls complex actions in naturalistic environments.

Biophysical modeling is an integral part of our research and provides us with a deeper understanding of the underlying neural mechanisms. We develop models at several spatiotemporal scales, ranging from spiking neurons to population dynamics, to simulate the behavior of neural systems. Our biophysical models are based on detailed descriptions of the biophysical properties of neurons and how they interact with each other. By integrating these models with our goal-driven deep learning approach, we can learn how the brain performs complex tasks and generate predictions about how these mechanisms change with different sensory inputs and task demands. This interdisciplinary approach, combining biophysics and machine learning, enables us to gain new insights into the cortex and the sensorimotor loop

Finally, our data-driven model discovery approach focuses on using advanced techniques such as dynamic mode decomposition, sparse identification of nonlinear dynamics, time-delay embeddings and Koopman operators to identify patterns and relationships in large amounts of behavioral and neural data. These techniques allow us to uncover the underlying structure of complex data and develop models that better explain the neural mechanisms of the perception-action loop.


This video presents a first proof of concept of our work on human dexterity in the Human Brain Project.

Ibrahim, Tonio and Raphael started their PhDs in the group from September 2020. Given the virtual work environment, we welcomed them by starting an online book-reading club.

Vaish gave a talk on Functional Cognitive Architectures with a top-down perspective at the Human Brain Project Summit 2020 in Athens.

The CCN group presented a poster about 'Saccades to Dexterity' at the Human Brain Project Summit 2020 in Athens .

The group kickstarted 2020 with dinner and drinks and enjoyed some elusive Dutch sunshine in January.

Jessica de Santiago, PhD candidate at Computational Neuroscience Group, UPF Barcelona, has received the YERUN Research Mobility Award for a research collaboration at Maastricht University with our group.

Mario was selected for Young European Talent 2019 in the Science category.

Salil presented his work on population real-time receptive-field mapping at Society for Neuroscience Conference in Chicago in November, 2019.

Mario explained the Human Brain Project to laypersons at Studium Generale in November, 2019. Link to the event

Alex, Danny, Mario and Vaish organized and participated in the Workshop on Visuomotor Integration in Paris in June, 2019, as part of Co-design Project - 4 of the Human Brain Project.

The CCN group organized and participated in a hackathon aimed at combining models with the neurorobotics platform in Maastricht in December, 2018. Collaborators from TU Munich, FZI Karlsruhe and The BioRobotics Institute in Pisa also attended the hackathon.

Mario explained the closed-loop visuomotor model at the Human Brain Project Open Day held in Maastricht in October, 2018.