Second NeuroMat Workshop: New Frontiers in NeuroMathematics

The Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (NeuroMat) will hold the Second NeuroMat Workshop: New Frontiers in NeuroMathematics, in São Paulo, from November 22 to 25, 2016. NeuroMat is hosted by the University of São Paulo and supported by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). The event's official website is: neuromat.numec.prp.usp.br/nm2w.

Psychosis and the Control of Lucid Dreaming

Natália B. Mota, Adara Resende, Sérgio A. Mota-Rolim, Mauro Copelli and Sidarta Ribeiro

Dreaming and psychosis share important features, such as intrinsic sense perceptions independent of external stimulation, and a general lack of criticism that is associated with reduced frontal cerebral activity. Awareness of dreaming while a dream is happening defines lucid dreaming (LD), a state in which the prefrontal cortex is more active than during regular dreaming. For this reason, LD has been proposed to be potentially therapeutic for psychotic patients. According to this view, psychotic patients would be expected to report LD less frequently, and with lower control ability, than healthy subjects. Furthermore, psychotic patients able to experience LD should present milder psychiatric symptoms, in comparison with psychotic patients unable to experience LD. To test these hypotheses, we investigated LD features (occurrence, control abilities, frequency, and affective valence) and psychiatric symptoms (measure by PANSS, BPRS, and automated speech analysis) in 45 subjects with psychotic symptoms [25 with Schizophrenia (S) and 20 with Bipolar Disorder (B) diagnosis] versus 28 non-psychotic control (C) subjects. Psychotic lucid dreamers reported control of their dreams more frequently (67% of S and 73% of B) than non-psychotic lucid dreamers (only 23% of C; S > C with p = 0.0283, B > C with p = 0.0150). Importantly, there was no clinical advantage for lucid dreamers among psychotic patients, even for the diagnostic question specifically related to lack of judgment and insight. Despite some limitations (e.g., transversal design, large variation of medications), these preliminary results support the notion that LD is associated with psychosis, but falsify the hypotheses that we set out to test. A possible explanation is that psychosis enhances the experience of internal reality in detriment of external reality, and therefore lucid dreamers with psychotic symptoms would be more able to control their internal reality than non-psychotic lucid dreamers. Training dream lucidity is likely to produce safe psychological strengthening in a non-psychotic population, but in a psychotic population LD practice may further empower deliria and hallucinations, giving internal reality the appearance of external reality.

Integrating research, technology transfer and dissemination: NeuroMat’s third report of activities

When the São Paulo Research Foundation established the structure of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Centers it stated clearly that the most important feature of RIDCs was the multiplicity of their missions, a cornerstone for attaining the status of “a world class research center.” Each RIDC must have a specific, high-impact research focus, and this research focus must be necessarily integrated with technology-transfer and scientific dissemination explicit missions.

Retrieving a context tree from EEG data

A. Duarte, R. Fraiman, A. Galves, G. Ost, C. Vargas

It has been repeatedly conjectured that the brain retrieves statistical regularities from stimuli, so that their structural features are separated from noise. Here we present a new statistical approach allowing to address this conjecture. This approach is based on a new class of stochastic processes driven by context tree models. Also, it associates to a new experimental protocol in which structured auditory sequences are presented to volunteers while electroencephalographic signals are recorded from their scalp. A statistical model selection procedure for functional data is presented to analyze the electrophysiological signals. This procedure is proved to be consistent. Applied to samples of electrophysiological trajectories collected during structured auditory stimuli presentation, it produces results supporting the conjecture that the brain effectively identifies the context tree characterizing the source.

NeuroMat Parkinson Network: a video presentation

Aiming at improving the life quality of people with Parkinson's Disease, the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat) has created the network Amparo. It brings together people with the disease, relatives, helpers, students and professionals to establish a flow of exchange to better the understanding of this disease in Brazil and especially connecting knowledge from the frontier of science to health policies and clinical guidelines. (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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