Evaluating Connectomes Using Measures of Complexity and Synergy

Unlike many physical systems, brains and their pathologies have been resistant to deep explanations because of their complexity. Yet brains are also characterized by a high degree of flexibility, robustness, and intelligence. This group of Allen Distinguished Investigators is working to characterize why brains have these properties by relating the complexity of brains to how they adapt to sensory input. The group is developing a theoretical notion for "fitness" based on the mutual information between sensory input to an organism's brain and its possible motor outputs. Looking at the brains of the simple worm C. elegans, the researchers are finding that brain complexity increases as the organisms become more adapted to their environment – that is, the brain becomes more flexible, robust, and intelligent as it becomes more fit.

Affiliated Investigators

Christof Koch, Ph.D.

California Institute of Technology

Christof Koch joined the Allen Institute as Chief Scientific Officer in 2011 and became President in 2015. He received his baccalaureate from the Lycée Descartes in Rabat, Morocco, his M.S. in physics from the University of Tübingen in Germany and his Ph.D. from the Max-Planck-Institut für Biologische Kybernetik, Tübingen. Subsequently, he spent four years as a postdoctoral fellow in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory and the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. From 1987 until 2013, he was a professor at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, from his initial appointment as Assistant Professor, Division of Biology and Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences in 1986, to his final position as Lois and Victor Troendle Professor of Cognitive & Behavioral Biology.