Christopher W. Lynn

Princeton University

Chris combines ideas from statistical mechanics, information theory, and network science to understand how function, structure, and dynamics emerge in neural systems. He is a JSMF Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Physics of Biological Function at Princeton University and the City University of New York working with William Bialek, Stephanie Palmer, and David Schwab. Previously, he received his Ph.D. in Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania under the supervision of Dani Bassett.


Thursday April 20th

Emergence and function of irreversibility in neural systems

Living systems are fundamentally irreversible, breaking detailed balance and burning energy at microscopic scales to execute biological functions. The human brain, for example, expends up to 20% of the body’s metabolic output to carry out computations and perform cognitive tasks. But how do large-scale violations of detailed balance – from the collective firing of neuronal populations to whole-brain activity – enable higher-order functions, such as cognition and movement? Moreover, how does the collective irreversibility of these complex systems emerge from the fine-scale dynamics of individual units (neurons or brain regions) at the scales below? Here, I will discuss recent work that aims to begin addressing these questions.