Lecturer (Embedded Systems) / Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Borisyuk Lab), Computational Neuroscience
We collaborate with Alan Roberts' lab at the University of Bristol and Wen-chang Li's lab at the University of St Andrews to build computational models of the nervous system of Xenopus tadpoles. Our aim is to use such models to investigate how the nervous system produces different behaviours, such as swimming and struggling, and how multiple sensory inputs are combined in order to control behaviour. Working closely with neurobiologists has allowed us to create detailed and biologically realistic large-scale computational models of the tadpole spinal cord that accurately reproduce swimming behaviour. Our current work focuses on improving these detailed models, as well as using reduced models to investigate the theoretical mathematical principles behind pattern and behaviour generating neuronal circuits.
During my PhD I studied computational models of the basal ganglia in health and in Parkinson's Disease. I continue to be interested in this subject, and am currently working on investigating ways of modelling the effects of deep brain stimulation on the basal ganglia.
I am also interested in the use of graphical processing units (GPU) to speed up scientific computation. My software, Fireflies, uses the GPU to produce exciting interactive visualisations of dynamical systems. There are some videos of it in action here, or see the paper below.
- Merrison-Hort R. (2015) "Fireflies: New software for interactively exploring dynamical systems using GPU computing", International Journal of Bifurcation and Chaos, 25(13), 1550181 [PDF]
- Li W-C., Merrison-Hort R., Zhang H-Y. and Borisyuk R. (2014) "The Generation of Antiphase Oscillations and Synchrony by a Rebound-Based Vertebrate Central Pattern Generator", The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(17), 6065-6077. [Online Version | PDF]
- Roberts A., Conte D., Hull M., Merrison-Hort R., al Azad A.K., Buhl E., Borisyuk R. and Soffe S.R. (2014) "Can Simple Rules Control Development of a Pioneer Vertebrate Neuronal Network Generating Behavior?", The Journal of Neuroscience, 34(2), 608-621. [Online Version | PDF]
- Merrison-Hort R.J. and Borisyuk R. (2013) "The emergence of two anti-phase oscillatory neural populations in a computational model of the Parkinsonian globus pallidus", Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 7(173). [Online Version | PDF]
- Merrison-Hort R.J., Yousif N., Njap F., Hofmann U.G., Burylko O. and Borisyuk R. (2013) "An Interactive Channel Model of the Basal Ganglia: Bifurcation Analysis under Healthy and Parkinsonian Conditions", The Journal of Mathematical Neuroscience, 3(14). [Online Version | PDF]
- "Oscillations and Action Selection in a Multi-Channel Model of the Basal Ganglia". SIAM Conference on Applications of Dynamical Systems, Snowbird, Utah, 21st May 2015.
- "The dynamic separation of pallidal neurons into anti-phase oscillatory groups under Parkinsonian conditions in a computational model". 23rd Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting (CNS 2014), Quebec City, 29th July 2014. [Abstract]
- "DSvis: A Tool for Interactively Exploring Dynamical Systems using GPU Computing" (5 minute lightning talk). Code Generation Workshop, Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge, 19th December 2013.
- "From Games to Brains: Studying the Dynamics of Complex Computational Models using GPU Computing". Postgraduate Society Conference, Plymouth University, 27th November 2013.
"Fireflies: New software to interactively visualise the behaviour of dynamical systems by harnessing the power of GPU computing", with Roman Borisyuk. Presented at:
- BioDynamics Workshop, Edinburgh, April 2015
- 1st International Conference on Mathematical Neuroscience, Antibes, June 2015
"Sync or Swim? Using a detailed computational model to investigate how the tadpole spinal cord can produce multiple patterns of motor activity", with Roman Borisyuk, Hong-Yan Zhang and Wen-Chang Li. Presented at:
- BNA Festival of Neuroscience, Edinburgh, April 2015
"Action selection via partial synchronisation in a population model of the basal ganglia", with Roman Borisyuk. Presented at:
- Integrated Systems Neuroscience Workshop, University of Manchester, March 2015
"Bifurcation analysis of anti-phase oscillations and synchrony in the tadpole central pattern generator", with Roman Borisyuk [Abstract]. Presented at:
- 23rd Annual Computational Neuroscience Meeting (CNS 2014), Quebec City, July 2014
"The emergence of two anti-phase oscillatory neural populations in a computational model of the Parkinsonian globus pallidus", with Roman Borisyuk. Presented at:
- Biodynamics 2013, Engineers' House, Bristol, September 2013
"Bifurcation analysis of a model of Parkinsonian STN-GPe activity", with Felix Njap, Nada Yousif, Ulrich Hofmann and Roman Borisyuk. Presented (with various modifications) at:
- Neurodynamics: a workshop on heterogeneity, noise, delays, and plasticity in neural systems, Edinburgh, March 2012
- 2nd UK Neuroinformatics Node congress, Edinburgh, March 2012
- Towards Mathematical Modeling of Neurological Disease from Cellular Perspectives, Fields Institute, Toronto, May 2012
- Module leader for "ELEC350: Advanced Embedded Programming", Plymouth University (2015 - 2016)
- Lecturer for "SOFT253: Embedded Programming, Compilers, Languages and Grammars", Plymouth University (2015 - 2016)
- Teaching assistant for "MATH3405: Non-linear Systems", Plymouth University (2011 - 2014)
- Teaching assistant for "MATH1504: Numerical and Computational Methods", Plymouth University (2012 - 2015)
- Teaching assistant for "AINT303: Neural Computation", Plymouth University (2011 & 2012)
- PhD Computing, Plymouth University, 2014
- MRes Robotics, Plymouth University, 2011
- BSc (hons) Computer Science, The University of Warwick, 2007
I develop the software part of the FireByWire system for designing and launching musical firework displays. There's a video of one of our shows here! Wireless mesh networks and robotics are cool and so a long-term project of mine is building an autonomous model train system. Unfortunately space is a limiting factor so progress is slow...