February Fourier Talks 2007

Keynote Address: Steven Schiff


Spatiotemporal Pattern Formation and Control in the Brain


The spatiotemporal structure of brain oscillations are important in understanding neural function. We analyze oscillatory episodes from isotropic preparations from the middle layers of mammalian cortex which display irregular and chaotic spatiotemporal wave activity, within which spontaneously emerge spiral and plane waves. We seek to control such dynamics, and are constructing combinations of fundamental and empirical state space representations of these dynamics in order to create a model-based framework for optimized control.


Steven J. Schiff recently joined Pennsylvania State University as Professor of Neurosurgery in the College of Medicine (Milton Hershey Medical Center) and Professor of Engineering Science and Mechanics and Brush Chair Professor of Engineering.

Dr. Schiff’s research interests focus on understanding pathological dynamics in the brain in terms of the underlying physics, and how technology based on this understanding can treat diseases such as epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and chronic pain.

Prior to joining Penn State, Dr. Schiff was Professor of Neurobiology, Professor of Psychology and Chief of the Neural Dynamics Laboratory at The George Mason University. He is a past attending neurosurgeon, Associate Director of the Center for Neuroscience and Behavioral Medicine, and co-director of the Epilepsy Surgery Program at the Children’s Research Institute. Dr. Schiff is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. He is listed in the Guide to America’s Top Physicians, serves as the Divisional Associate Editor (Biological Physics) for Physical Review Letters, as an Advisory Editor for the Elsevier Book Series “Nonlinear Science and Complexity” and on the Editorial Board of Physical Review E, is an eminent scholar in the State of Virginia, and has recently organized symposia for the American Epilepsy Society and the Industrial and Applied Mathematics Dynamical Systems Conferences. He holds five patents and is a highly sought speaker.

Dr. Schiff, along with Dr. Bruce J. Gluckman, also of Penn State, is responsible for developing research, education and service collaboration among the Departments of Neurosurgery and Engineering Science and Mechanics, The Colleges of Engineering and Medicine, the Materials Research Institute and the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences. Dr. Schiff holds a Ph.D. from the Department of Physiology; Duke University Medical Center, and an M.D. from Duke University School of Medicine.