Prof Mike Denham
Emeritus Professor of Adaptive and Neural Computation
BSc (Hons) (1st Class), Electrical and Electronic Engineering, University of Birmingham, 1968
PhD, Mathematical Control Systems Theory, Imperial College of Science and Technology, 1972
2007 - present Emeritus Professor of Neural and Adaptive Systems, University of Plymouth
2003-2007 Head of the Centre for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience, University of Plymouth
1988-2007 Professor of Neural and Adaptive Systems, University of Plymouth.
1999-2003 Chief Technical Officer, NeuVoice Ltd
1996-2000 Co-Director, Plymouth Engineering Design Centre.
1991-1996 Director, Plymouth Engineering Design Centre.
1987 Visiting Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of California, Santa Barbara.
1987 Director, NATO Advanced Study Institute on Advanced Computing Methods in Control, Italy
1986-1988 Professor of Computing, Kingston Polytechnic.
1984-1988 Head of School of Computing, Kingston Polytechnic.
1981-1984 Reader in Industrial Computing and Control, Kingston Polytechnic.
1977-1981 Principal Lecturer, Kingston Polytechnic.
1974-1977 Lecturer, Imperial College of Science and Technology.
1972-1974 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Imperial College of Science and Technology.
1968-1969 Systems Engineer, Marconi Space and Defence Systems
1964-1965 Pre-University Trainee, AEI Ltd
I carried out my research training in the Control Theory Group at Imperial College of Science and Technology in London, and obtained my PhD in geometric dynamical systems theory in 1972. After a further five years at Imperial, as a post-doc and then lecturer, and ten years at Kingston University, where I served as Head of the School of Computing from 1984 to 1988, I joined the University of Plymouth in 1988 as a Research Professor. During 1987 I was a Visiting Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and served as Co-Director of the 1987 NATO Advanced Study Institute on Advanced Computing Methods in Control.
My interests in neural and adaptive systems developed in 1990, and in 1991 I founded the Neurodynamics Research Group, which was involved in developing dynamical systems models of information processing in the brain, and the Plymouth Engineering Design Centre, which investigated the application of adaptive computing methods to industrial engineering design problems. In 1994 I formed the Centre for Neural and Adaptive Systems (CNAS) from the work of the Neurodynamics Research Group. The CNAS pursued a research programme in the areas of computational neuroscience and neural computation, and by 2003 comprised eight academic staff. It became recognised as one of the leading international research groups in this field, and was awarded a grading indicating international excellence (grade "5") in the 2001 HEFCE Research Assessment Exercise (RAE)
In 2007 I retired from my academic post as Head of the Centre for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience. This was formed as a Research Centre of the University of Plymouth in October 2003, incorporating five of the academic staff from the CNAS and one from the Department of Psychology. The focus of the Centre's research programme was the application of rigorous quantitative approaches, including mathematical and computational modelling and psychophysics, to the study of information representation, processing, storage and transmission in the brain and its manifestation in perception and action. Areas of study include: visual and auditory perception; sensorimotor control, in particular oculomotor control; and mathematical and computational modelling of the neural circuitry underlying perception, attention, learning and memory, and motor control.
My external appointments have included serving as a member of the Computer Science Panel for both the 1996 and 2001 HEFCE Research assessment Exercises. In the past I have acted as a Specialist Advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology (1984), and as a member of several Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council committees, including committees in control engineering and engineering design and the two senior committees in the computing and information technology area, the Information Engineering Committee (1981-84) and the Information Technology Advisory Board (1993-94).
In 2000, I was elected to the Board of Governors of the International Neural Network Society (www.inns.org)on which I served until 2003. In 2001 I was invited to serve as one of the founder members of the UK Computing Research Committee (UKCRC), formed at that time as a policy committee for computing research in the UK, affiliated to the British Computer Society, the Institution of Electrical Engineers and the Conference of Professors and Heads of Computing. In 2003 I was invited to join the Medical Research Council's Brain Sciences Panel in respect of the MRC's Brain Sciences Initiative. Also in 2003 I was appointed as a member of the Animal Sciences Committee of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. I have also acted as an expert evaluator for various European Commission Calls for research proposals under the FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) Programme, most recently in 2012.
From 1999 to 2004 I was one of the founding directors and CTO of NeuVoice Ltd (www.neuvoice.com), which was a "spin-out" company founded in 1999 from research carried out in the CNAS on the human auditory system, and which produced state-of-the-art voice recognition products for the mobile communications/ computing market.
Membership of Learned Societies and Professional Organisations
Member, British Neuroscience Association
Roles on external bodies
1984 Specialist advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology
Member of the following committees of the Science and Engineering Research Council (now Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council):
1979-82 Control and Instrumentation Subcommittee
1981-84 Engineering Board Computing Committee
1982-84 Special Interest Group in Control of the SERC Interactive Computing Facility (Chairman)
1984-90 Management Committee for Special Programme in Computing and Design Techniques in Control Engineering
1989-91 Engineering Design Committee
1993-94 Information Technology Advisory Board
1981-87 Computing Board of the Council for National Academic Awards
1989-1992 IEE Professional Group Committee C7: Computer Aided Control Engineering
1995-1996 Computer Science Panel, 1996 Research Assessment Exercise, Higher Education Funding Council for England
2000-2001 Computer Science Panel, 2001 Research Assessment Exercise, Higher Education Funding Council for England
1997- 2003 Editorial Board, Book Series “Perspectives in Neural Computing”, Springer-Verlag
2000-2003 Board of Governors, International Neural Network Society
2001-2007 United Kingdom Computing Science Research Committee
2003-2006 Technical Committee Member, International Association of Science and Technology for Development (IASTED)
2003-2004 Medical Research Council: Brain Sciences Panel
2003-2006 Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council: Animal Sciences Committee
2012-2013 Expert Evaluator, Future and Emerging Technologies, 7th Framework Programme, European Commission
2013-present Expert Evaluator, Future and Emerging Technologies, Horizon 2020 Programme, European Commission
My research interests lie in the development of novel theories and associated computational models of information processing in the brain, in particular in relation to sensory perception, learning and memory. The aim is that these theories and models will (a) add to the basic understanding of the brain, and (b) provide the inspiration for novel computing systems which can behave in “brain-like” ways, in particular systems for vision, audition, learning and memory.
I am currently developing a theory of information processing in primary sensory neocortical neural circuits. This involves understanding and modelling the dynamical behaviour and properties of the neocortical six-layered architecture and circuitry, including the thalamocortical feedback circuit, and the role of this circuitry in the dynamic behaviour of receptive field properties. Of special interest is the role of contextual and attentional mechanisms in this behaviour.
Closely related to this is my fundamental research interest in developing a new theoretical basis for describing and analysing how information is represented and processed in neocortical circuits, using the mathematics of differential and algebraic geometry. This theory proposes that the neocortical microcircuit acts as a nonlinear dynamical system which constantly modifies its dynamics through pre-and post-synaptic interaction at circuit connections, and represents, memorises and processes information in the form of continuous spatiotemporal state trajectories in a very high dimensional space.
Another part of my recent research has been to understand and model some of the processes involved in learning and memory. Most recently this has been concerned with developing a systems level model of the role of the hippocampal region, including associated structures of the medial temporal lobe, in the fast learning of personal episodic events. This has involved: an investigation of the interactions of these areas with the neocortex, and with diencephalic and brainstem regions; modelling the rhythmic inhibition of hippocampal principal cells under the influence of medial septum; modelling the role of backpropagating action potentials, and A-type K+ channels on calcium influx, in the control of synaptic modification processes in hippocampal principal cells; developing a "spike-timing dependent" learning rule which mimics the experimentally observed temporal asymmetry of pairing effects on the induction of associative NMDA-mediated LTP and LTD in neocortical and hippocampal cells, for use in neural network models. Most of this recent work is in papers recently published in the journals Hippocampus and Reviews in the Neurosciences.
I am also interested in modelling the decision-making behavioural role of the frontal region of the brain, in particular the interactions between prefrontal and sensory/ motor regions of the neocortex, in predicting the actions required for goal achievement and learning the optimal sensory inputs and motor actions for maximising reward. In this respect, in collaboration with Dr Raju Bapi, I developed in 1997 a “biased competion” model of attention which was based on Grossberg's ARTMAP model and successfully modelled experiments of Roberts and colleagues on shifts in attentional set (Roberts et al, 1988, Q J Exp Psychol B. 40: 321-4)
Yousif N.A.B., Denham M.J. (2004) Spindle oscillations in a Wilson-Cowan type computational model of a thalamocortical network. Proc of the Forum of European Neuroscience (FENS’2004), Lisbon, Portugal. (Abstract)
Denham, M.J. (2002) A Theoretical Model of the Neuronal Processes underlying Cognitive Control. Proc of the Forum of European Neuroscience (FENS’2002), Paris, France. (Abstract)
Denham M., Borisyuk R. (2000) Computational modelling of septo-hippocampal theta-rhythm production. In: Ninth Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting, Brugge, Belgium, July 2000, Abstracts, p. 38.
Denham, M.J., Borisyuk, R.M. (2000) A Computational Model Of GABAergic Mediated Theta Rhythm Production In The Septal-Hippocampal System And Its Modulation By Ascending Brainstem Pathways. Proc of the Forum of European Neuroscience (FENS’2000), Brighton, UK. (Abstract)
Borisyuk R.M., Vinogradova O.S., Denham M., Kazanovich Y.B., Hoppensteadt F. (2000) Model of novelty detection in the hippocampus based on frequency coding. In: Neuroinformatics 2000, Moscow, January 2000, abstracts, p. 26.
Borisyuk R and Denham M (1999) A study of oscillatory activity in the model of septo-hippocampal system. Proc. of the Fifth SIAM Conference on Applications of Dynamical Systems. May, 1999, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Snowbird, Utah Available as NTIS Technical report ADA366931 from http://www.ntis.gov/search/product.asp?ABBR=ADA366931&starDB=GRAHIST
Borisyuk R, Denham M, Kazanovich Y and Hoppensteadt F (1999) Oscillatory model of novelty detection in the hippocampus. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Cognitive and Neural Systems, (abstract). Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems, Boston University: USA.
Denham MJ and Borisyuk RM (1999) An oscillatory model of the septal-hippocampal inhibitory circuit and the modulation of hippocampal theta activity. Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Cognitive and Neural Systems, (abstract). Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems, Boston University:USA.
Denham, M J and Denham, S L. (1999) Predictive information processing in the septal-hippocampal region and its involvement in learning and memory. American Association for Artificial Intelligence Workshop on Computation with Neural Systems, 12-18. AAAI Press Technical Report WS-99-04.
Denham, S L and Denham M J. (1999) An investigation into the role of cortical synaptic depression in auditory processing. American Association for Artificial Intelligence Workshop on Computation with Neural Systems, 19-26. AAAI Press Technical Report WS-99-04.
Denham M.J. and McCabe S.L. (1998). A model of predictive learning in the rat hippocampal principal cells during spatial activity. In: P Simpson (ed.), Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN’98), 1547-1552. Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Press: New York.
Denham M.J. and McCabe S.L.(1998). A dynamic learning rule for synaptic modification. In: S Grossberg (ed.), Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Cognitive and Neural Systems, 16. Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems: Boston University.
Denham M.J. and McCabe S.L.(1998).A computational model of predictive learning in hippocampal CA3 principal cells of the rat during spatial activity. In: S Grossberg (ed.), Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Cognitive and Neural Systems, 17. Department of Cognitive and Neural Systems: Boston University.
McCabe SL and Denham MJ.(1998). A model of the perception of concurrent vowels at short durations. In: P Simpson (ed.), Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN'98), 1575-1579. Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering Press: New York.
McCabe SL and Denham MJ. (1998). A thalamocortical model of auditory streaming. In: S Greenberg and M Slaney (eds). Proceedings of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Advanced Study Institute on Computational Hearing, 221-226. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, International Scientific Exchange Programmes, California: USA.
Research degrees awarded to supervised students
Award dates and PhD students for whom I have acted as Director of Studies
1977 Joseph Pearlman “Internal description of multilinear systems”
1978 Katsuhiko Yamashita “A convolution operator approach to the design of controllers for delay systems”
1990 Peter Passmore “A formal Petri net / temporal logic based tool for the analysis and design of manufacturing control systems”
1994 Edward Williams “A neural network based approach to fault detection in industrial processes”
1994 Susan McCabe “Neural models of subcortical auditory processing”
1995 Lucy Troup “Towards the development of a model of vision: an investigation into the architectures and mechanisms of visual perception”
1996 Richard Harris “An analysis of the genetic algorithm and abstract search space visualisation”
1996 Mark Norman “An investigation into motor pools and their applicability to a biologically inspired model of ballistic voluntary motor action”
1996 Alison Watkins “An investigation into adaptive search techniques for the automatic generation of software test data”
1997 Alexis Kirke “Learning and cooperation in mobile multi- robot systems”
1998 Brendan D’Cruz “Reinforcement learning in intelligent control: a biologically-inspired approach to the relearning problem”
1999 Steven Hill “Meta-stability of interacting adaptive agents”
2000 Jonathan Moore “Exploring and exploiting models of the fitness landscape: a case against evolutionary optimisation”
2004 Rohana Rajapakse “Formal concept matching and reinforcement learning in adaptive information retrieval”
2005 Hossam Allam "Modelling learning behaviour of intelligent agents using UML 2.0"
2005 Nada Yousif "Computational models of the thalamocortical circuit: sleep oscillations and receptive fields"
2010 Kameliya Dimova "Bayesian model of the dynamics of motion integration in smooth pursuit and plaid perception"
Grants & contracts
Recent Research Grants (as Principal Investigator)
1991-1995 Plymouth Engineering Design Centre: Application of the Genetic Algorithm and Related Techniques to Engineering Design, SERC, £322,000
1993-1997 Plymouth Engineering Design Centre: Application of the Genetic Algorithm and Related Techniques to Engineering Design, SERC, £650,000 - continuation of the Special Renewable Research Grant awarded in 1991 for the Plymouth Engineering Design Centre
1993-1996 Novel Biologically-Inspired Learning Control Systems, SERC, £88,500 (In collaboration with Prof JG Taylor, Kings College London)
2003-2004 Research Cluster in Novel Brain-Inspired Computation, EPSRC Novel Computation Initiative, £60,000
2005-2010 A Novel Computing Architecture for Cognitive Systems based on the Laminar Microcircuitry of the Neocortex, EPSRC Novel Computation Initiative, £1,800,000 Co-Investigators: Michael Hausser, Arnd Roth (UCL); Alex Thomson (School of Pharmacy, London); Jan Schnupp (Oxford); Mark van Rossum, David Willshaw (Edinburgh); Steve Furber, Piotr Dudek, Stefano Panzeri (Manchester)
Recent Research Grants (as co-Investigator/consortium participant)
2005-2009 "FACETS: Fast Analog Computing with Emergent Transient States in Neural Architectures" Integrated Project FP6-2004-IST-FET Proactive Call in Bio-Inspired Intelligent Systems, 10.5M euros. Co-ordinator: Dr Karlheinz Meier, Heidelberg University
2005-2008 "EmCAP: Emergent Cognition through Active Perception" Specific targeted research project FP6-2004-IST-FET Open Call, 2.0M euros. Co-ordinator: Dr Susan Denham, Plymouth University
Dimova K.D., Denham M.J. (2010) A model of plaid motion perception based on recursive Bayesian integration of the 1-D and 2-D motions of plaid features. Vision Research 50, 585–597.
Dimova K., Denham M. (2009) A neurally plausible model of motion integration in smooth eye pursuit based on recursive Bayesian estimation. Biological Cybernetics, 100, 185-201.
Coath M., Balaguer-Ballester E., Denham S.L., Denham M. (2008) The linearity of emergent spectro-temporal receptive fields in a model of auditory cortex. Biosystems, 94, 60-67.
Dimova K, Denham M. (2008). A neurally plausible model of the dynamics of motion integration in smooth eye pursuit based on recursive Bayesian estimation. Journal of Vision, 8(17):50, 50a (Abstract of presentation at the Optical Society of America Fall Vision Meeting, October 24 - 26, 2008, Rochester, New York).
Yousif N.A.B., Denham M.J. (2007) The role of cortical feedback in the generation of the temporal receptive field responses of lateral geniculate nucleus neurons: a computational modelling study. Biological Cybernetics, 97, 269-277
Rajapakse, R., Denham, M. J. (2006) Text Retrieval with More Realistic Concept Matching and Reinforcement Learning. Information Processing and Management, 42, 1260-1275
Yousif, N. A. B., & Denham, M. J. (2005) A population-based model of the nonlinear dynamics of the thalamocortical feedback network displays intrinsic oscillations in the spindling (7-14 Hz) range. European Journal of Neuroscience, 22, 3179-3187.
Tarassenko, L. & Denham, M. (2005) Sensory Processing. In Eds. Richard Morris, Lionel Tarassenko, Michael Kenward, Cognitive Systems: Information Processing Meets Brain Science, Chapter 4, pp 85-104, Elsevier Academic Press.
Rajapakse, R., Denham, M. J. (2005) Fast access to concepts in concept lattices via bidirectional associative memories. Neural Computation, 17: 2291-2300
Denham, M. J. (2005) Characterising neural representation in terms of the dynamics of cell membrane potential activity: a control theoretic approach using differential geometry. BioSystems, 79 (1-3), 53-60.
Yousif, N. A. B. and Denham, M. J. (2004) Action potential backpropagation in a model thalamocortical relay cell. Neurocomputing (Special Issue: Computational Neuroscience: Trends in Research 2004), 58-60, 393-400.
Denham, M.J. (2001). The dynamics of learning and memory: lessons from neuroscience. In: S.Wermter, J. Austin, D. Willshaw (eds.), Emergent Neural Computational Architectures based on Neuroscience. Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence (LNAI 2036), Springer, 333-347.
Borisyuk, R., Denham, M.J, Hoppensteadt F., Kazanovich Y. and Vinogradova O. (2001). Oscillatory model of novelty detection. Network: Computation in Neural Systems, 12, 1-20
Borisyuk, R., Denham, M.J, Hoppensteadt F., Kazanovich Y, and Vinogradova O. (2000). An oscillatory neural network model of sparse distributed memory and novelty detection. BioSystems, 58, 265-272
Denham, M. J., Borisyuk, R. M. (2000). A model of theta rhythm production in the septal-hippocampal system and its modulation by ascending brain stem pathways. Hippocampus, 10, 698-716.
Borisyuk, R.M., Denham, M.J., Denham, S.L., Hoppensteadt F. (1999). Computational models of predictive and memory-related functions of the hippocampus. Reviews in the Neurosciences, 10, 213-232.
McCabe, S. L., Denham, M. J. (1997) A model of auditory streaming. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 101, 1611-1621.
Recent Conference Papers
Rajapakse, R.K., Denham, M. J.(2003) A Reinforcement Learning Strategy for (Formal) Concept and Keyword Weight Learning for Adaptive Information retrieval. Proc of the 7th World Multiconference on Systemics, Cybernetics and Informatics (SCI'2003) , Orlando, USA, July 2003.
Rajapakse, R.K., Denham, M. J.(2002) Information Retrieval Model Using Concept Lattices for Content Representation. Proceedings of the FCA KDD Workshop, 15th European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI'02), Lyon, France, July 2002
Rajapakse, R.K., Denham, M. (2002) A Concept Based Adaptive Information Retrieval Model Using FCA-BAM Combination for Concept Representation. Proceedings of the 24th BCS-IRSG European Colloquium on Information Retrieval Research (ECIR'02), Glasgow, UK, March 2002, 150-168.
Borisyuk R.M., Vinogradova O.S., Denham M., Kazanovich Y.B., Hoppensteadt F. (2000). In: Proceedings of Neuroinformatics 2000, Moscow, January 2000, MIFI, v.1, pp 145-156 (in Russian)
Bapi, R. S., Denham, M. J. (1997) Representational issues in neural systems: example from a neural network model of set-shifting paradigm experiments. In JA Bullinaria, DW Glasspool and G Houghton (eds), Proceedings of the 4th Neural Computation and Psychology Workshop, Springer, London, 129-141.
Reports & invited lectures
Denham, M.J., Tarassenko, L. (2003) Sensory Processing. Foresight Cognitive Systems Project Research Review, Office of Science and Technology, Dept of Trade and Industry, London. Published as Chapter 4 in Cognitive Systems: Information Processing Meets Brain Science, Elsevier, 2006.
Population-based modelling of the nonlinear dynamics of cortical circuits. Invited talk at the Inaugural Meeting of the theoretical Neuroscience Network, Loughborough University, September 15-17, 2004.
Brain Rhythms. Invited talk at the Foresight Cognitive Systems Project InterAction Conference, Bristol, September 2003.
The Role of the Septal-Hippocampal System in a Global Network for Episodic Memory: What meets Where and When. Invited talk presented at the Maxwell Institute Neuroinformatics Workshop on Multilevel Neuronal Modelling and Simulation, University of Edinburgh, May 21-25, 2001.
The Role of the Hippocampus in a Global Network for Episodic Memory: What Meets Where and When. Invited talk presented at the Special Session on “The Global Brain”, IEEE/INNS International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN’2000), Como, Italy, 24-27 July 2000.
The Dynamics of Learning and Memory: Lessons from Neuroscience. Invited talk presented at the EmerNet: International Workshop on Emergent Neural Computational Architectures Based on Neuroscience, University of Edinburgh, 11th September 1999