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PhD defense: Laura Masaracchia

PhD student at CFIN in the Analysis Group, Laura Masaracchia, is defending her PhD thesis on: "Investigating brain-behavior relations across multiple spatial scales: from spikes to network activity".

Info about event


Monday 25 September 2023,  at 14:00 - 16:00


Søauditorierne - Merete Barker Auditoriet, Building 1253, Room 211 and Zoom: https://aarhusuniversity.zoom.us/j/63591905308


CFIN/Professor Diego Vidaurre
PhD student Laura Masaracchia, CFIN

Laura Masaracchia

"Investigating brain-behavior relations across multiple spatial scales: from spikes to network activity"


The brain's cognitive processes are the result of information processed at different spatio-temporal scales, and of the coherent and meaningful interaction of the different scales. But the neural code is still not well understood: do neurons encode information only by firing, or is there extra information in their correlations? And how does meso-scale activity influence information encoding at the micro-scale?

These are the neurobiological questions Laura Masaracchia has approached during her PhD, through development and application of decoding methods. She has first focused on exploring hidden Markov models (HMM), a data-driven, unsupervised method used to detect network states in meso-scale data. Only after a meticulous analysis of the model’s strengths and weaknesses through simulations, she could apply it more confidently to real data. To explore how network activity influences information encoding at the single cell level, she developed a methodological approach to connect the two scales, using the HMM on meso-scale data (local field potentials, LFP) and standard decoding on micro-scale data (spikes). To investigate whether neural correlations encode information beyond the firing rate, she decoded behavioral information from calcium imaging traces (interpreted as firing rate) and from their pairwise correlations, with focus on using comparable decoding methods. Although she has analyzed mostly pre-collected data from the hippocampus of rodents, the theories investigated and the methods developed are intended to be general. 

The PhD defense is public and open to all interested.
The defense can also be followed online via Zoom:

After the defense CFIN will host a small reception in Building 1710, Universitetsbyen 3, 8000 Aarhus C


Evaluation committee:

  • Associate Professor Massimo Lumaca (chairman and moderator of the defence). Aarhus University
  • Professor Daniele Marinazzo. University of Ghent
  • Associate Professor Kristoffer Hougaard Madsen. Technical University of Denmark


Laura Masaracchia