Week 3: Another Promising Initial Result before Entering the Limbo

At the end of Week 2, given all the adjustments made in the previous two weeks, Professor Riecke and I have agreed to use MATLAB and proceed with the next stage of my URG project. As proposed in my URG proposal, I would test how better/worse does the simulated network of neurons perform in odor discrimination when we don’t just have granule cells come and go, but also their connections (i.e., synaptic strengths) with mitral cells come and go — depending on how active those connections are.

Writing code for that feature was pretty straightforward; I finished it in half a day. Once I wrote the necessary code, however, it wasn’t so obvious which values I should set to all the new variables I introduced in the code. So I spent next two or so days on running the code over and over again, with various combinations of possible values.


Meanwhile, two graduate students named John and Xize (both from China) came to work in the same office space (located in the fourth floor of Tech). Professor Riecke has decided to have me work together with John while Prof. Riecke himself goes overseas for conference (and vacation) during Weeks 4-7 of my URG period.


On the door of my summer office space in Tech M457.

On the door of my summer office space in Tech M457.


By the end of Week 3, the code ran without generating any errors. Also, the preliminary result from the simulated neuronal network seemed to indicate faster learning with the new feature added, with an appropriate choice of the new parameters. Upon meeting with Professor Riecke on Friday afternoon of that week, he said that I’m moving along quite faster than he had initially thought!


And that concluded the third week of the URG project, with the previously mentioned two-week break right around the corner.