Science in comics: comic books gain prominence in science dissemination

This month RIDC NeuroMat was covered by Pesquisa FAPESP magazine, this time on how comic books gain prominence in science dissemination. "The Arms of Nildo and Rony" is a NeuroMat HQ that guides patients with brachial plexus injury, which is a set of nerves responsible for the communication between the brain and the upper limbs. The story recounts the meeting of a biker, Nildo, who had a motorcycle accident, and a physician doctor, Rony, who was shot in an armed robbery. Both of them damage the brachial plexus and have partial loss of arm movements. "The goal is to inform patients and families about this disease, which leaves sequels even after surgery," explained Antonio Galves, NeuroMat coordinator and scriptwriter of the HQ. "We investigated this disease because it is a good model for studying the plasticity of the human brain." Pesquisa FAPESP magazine, 07/2018. (In Portuguese.)

The Goalkeeper Game, a tool for massive data collection and experiments

NeuroMat's Goalkeeper Game has evolved as two concomitant research, development directions. Firstly, the game, that had a first version launched in early 2016, is being developed as a tool for massive data collection. Secondly, the game remains a resource for efficient diagnosis and allows for changes in settings for experiments. Challenges in these two directions have been advanced by a multidisciplinary team within NeuroMat's innovation area.

The Shortest Possible Return Time of β-Mixing Processes

Miguel Abadi; Sandro Gallo and Erika Alejandra Rada-Mora

We consider a stochastic process and a givenn-string. We study the shortestpossiblereturn time (or shortest return path) of the string over all the realizations of process starting from this string. For aβ-mixing process having complete grammar, and for each sizenof the strings, we approximate the distribution of this short return (properly re-scaled) by a non-degenerated distribution. Under mild conditions on theβcoefficients, we prove the existence of the limit of this distribution to a non-degenerated distribution. We also prove that ergodicity is not enough to guaranty this convergence. Finally, we present a connection between the shortest return and the Shannon entropy, showing that maximum of the re-scaled variables grow as the matching function of Wyner and Ziv.

Dynamics of spontaneous activity in random networks with multiple neuron subtypes and synaptic noise: Spontaneous activity in networks with synaptic noise.

Pena RFO, Zaks MA and Roque AC.

Spontaneous cortical population activity exhibits a multitude of oscillatory patterns, which often display synchrony during slow-wave sleep or under certain anesthetics and stay asynchronous during quiet wakefulness. The mechanisms behind these cortical states and transitions among them are not completely understood. Here we study spontaneous population activity patterns in random networks of spiking neurons of mixed types modeled by Izhikevich equations. Neurons are coupled by conductance-based synapses subject to synaptic noise. We localize the population activity patterns on the parameter diagram spanned by the relative inhibitory synaptic strength and the magnitude of synaptic noise. In absence of noise, networks display transient activity patterns, either oscillatory or at constant level. The effect of noise is to turn transient patterns into persistent ones: for weak noise, all activity patterns are asynchronous non-oscillatory independently of synaptic strengths; for stronger noise, patterns have oscillatory and synchrony characteristics that depend on the relative inhibitory synaptic strength. In the region of parameter space where inhibitory synaptic strength exceeds the excitatory synaptic strength and for moderate noise magnitudes networks feature intermittent switches between oscillatory and quiescent states with characteristics similar to those of synchronous and asynchronous cortical states, respectively. We explain these oscillatory and quiescent patterns by combining a phenomenological global description of the network state with local descriptions of individual neurons in their partial phase spaces. Our results point to a bridge from events at the molecular scale of synapses to the cellular scale of individual neurons to the collective scale of neuronal populations.

NeuroMat launches a comics book on brachial plexus injury

Nildo and Rony are the main characters of a special comics book, aiming at providing guidance to patients with a brachial plexus injury and their caregivers. The comics book was produced in the context of ABRAÇO --the NeuroMat Action on the Brachial Plexus Injury. Bruna Caetano, Jornal da USP website, 06/14/2018. (In Portuguese)

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The Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics is hosted by the University of São Paulo and funded by FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation).

 

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