Collective Behaviour - Summer Seminar Series 2024

Excitable decision making

Prof. Alessio Franci, University of Liège, Belgium


Understanding how the functional scale of cognition and the cellular scale of excitable neuronal activity are related is a fundamental question of neuroscience with important implications for both biological and artificial intelligence. I propose that this problem can be addressed by focusing on decision-making as a universal and evolutionary conserved cognitive function and by studying it using mathematical modelling grounded in control and bifurcation theory. Excitability can then be understood as the synthesis of two defining properties of adaptive decision-making: the existence of a tunable threshold that determines the making of a decision and the existence of a reset mechanism that allows returning to a neutral state and the making of new decisions. The derived theory is suited both for the analysis of biological decision-making, including in groups, and for the design of artificial decision-making, including in algorithms and in hardware.

Alessio Franci received his Laurea Specialistica Degree in Theoretical Physics from the University of Pisa in 2008 and his PhD in Physics and Control Theory from the University of Paris Sud 11 in 2012. Between 2012 and 2015 he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Liege and at INRIA Lille and a long term visiting researcher at the University of Cambridge. Between 2015 and 2022 he was professor in the Math Department of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. Since 2023 he has been professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science of the University of Liege. His research is interdisciplinary, but the central focus is on the control-theoretical and computational principles needed to understand and design biological and bio-inspired intelligent behaviours.

Datum: 2024-05-27