Vyassa Baratham

Reveal Contact Info

PhD Student


Bouchard Lab

Current Research

My research uses biophysically detailed simulation to understand neural electrophysiology, especially electrical potentials recorded at the cortical surface. Specifically, where exactly are the neurons generating these signals located, and do contributions from distinct neuronal populations leave unique signatures in the cortical surface potential? Identifying these signatures could be an invaluable tool in both clinical and basic neuroscience.

Our main technique for studying the origin of neuronal extracellular potentials is a simulation of a large cortical network and the extracellular signals it produces. Our model network is based on the Blue Brain Project’s reconstruction of a cortical column from rat somatosensory cortex. In our lab, we also run rodent electrophysiology experiments which can be used to validate the simulation results.

In parallel with the analysis of the network simulation, we are developing more realistic models of extracellular signal propagation in the brain, where many of the simplifications commonly used to derive an analytical solution to Maxwell’s equations fail to hold robustly. In particular, the effects of densely packed cellular membranes in cortex are generally not incorporated in forward models of extracellular potential, but may enable neural tissue to transmit electrical signals in a frequency-dependent manner (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28891497/), which could explain some properties of cortical surface recordings.


I received my Bachelor’s degree in physics from Stony Brook University in 2015. I was previously involved in research in particle physics, but I spent my junior summer in a neuroscience lab on a BRAIN initiative grant. After graduating, and spending a gap year as a software engineer at Kyruus, Inc. (a healthcare IT startup in Boston where I grew up), fond memories of that summer came back to me as I began to look for research opportunities in grad school.

The book “Gödel, Escher, Bach” by Douglas Hofstadter strongly pushed my academic interests towards neuroscience. Upon reading the book, I was struck by the assortment of academic and artistic fields in which particularly “elegant” work often involves some form of self-reference. For example, take Gödel numbering, Escher’s tessellations, or Bach’s counterpoint. As someone who was steeped in Bach’s music from a young age, that last example was particularly important to me, and my subsequent musings about musical counterpoint led to an interest in the neural representations of consonant vs dissonant polyphony, which survives today as my curiosity about the neural mechanisms underlying pitch perception, especially in response to “missing fundamental” sounds, which contain spectral energy only at nontrivial integer multiples of some fundamental frequency, yet have the same pitch as the fundamental alone.

When I’m not doing science, I enjoy rock climbing, skiing, cooking, Final Fantasy, listening to music (especially Bach), and playing the violin (especially Bach).