Nesting a culture for computational neuroscience

The Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat) held in January and early February the seventh edition of the Latin American School on Computational Neuroscience. LASCON is a biennial school aiming at introducing advanced undergraduate, graduate students and young researchers, mostly from Latin America, to the use of mathematical and computational methods for modeling neurons and neural networks of the brain. Antonio Carlos Roque da Silva Filho, a NeuroMat co-principal investigator, is at the head of LASCON.

LASCON covers in general and in the seventh edition specifically a wide set of topics closely related to NeuroMat's project scope, such as: biophysically detailed single neuron models; reduced and simplified single neuron models; networks of biophysical and simplified neuron models; synaptic plasticity and learning; active inference and predictive coding in the brain; spike train analysis; stochastic modeling of ion channels; dynamics of neuronal functional connectivity; variable length memory chains and applications in neuroscience; and computational psychiatry.

The school was attended by several students and researchers of distinct backgrounds and different countries. During the seventh edition, there were 36 attendees from 11 countries --18 participants were from Brazil, coming from 10 different universities. On average, students were 28 years old. Most attendees were either Master or Doctoral students, associated to fields such as Mathematics, Psychology, Engineering and Physics.

Gabriel Debastaini, for instance, is a young Brazilian researcher that holds a degree in Physics, with a special focus on computational neuroscience. He decided to take part of LASCON 2018 as a means of establishing guidelines for his postgraduate research, as he saw the event as an opportunity for being in touch with several high-level, experienced researchers.

Another young researcher, Daniel Miranda Castro, presented a simulation project that used optimization algorithms to fit experimental data from "claustrum cells" (claustrum is a thin, irregular sheet of neurons that is attached to the underside of the neocortex in the center of the brain) into Izhikevich and Hodgkin–Huxley models. This presentation was part of an activity he and a LASCON peer attendee worked on during the school.

Instructors

Scientists from seven countries informed seminars and tutored students' projects during LASCON. For instance, Maximilian Schmidt works at the Laboratory for Neural Circuit Theory, RIKEN, on Theoretical Physics, Neuroscience and Computer Communications (Networks). He came to the school that was held at NeuroMat to learn more about the computational-neuroscience community in South America and was a tutor for a software called "NEST", a simulator for spiking neural network models that focuses on the dynamics, size and structure of neural systems rather than on the exact morphology of individual neurons.

This edition of LASCON was a four-week-long school with morning, afternoon and evening activities, with the fundamental goal of stimulating the creation of a culture of using mathematical modeling and computer simulation methods to approach neurobiological problems.

For more information on LASCON 2018:

Website: http://sisne.org/lascon-vii/?lang=en
Pictures: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Lascon_2018

This piece is part of NeuroMat's Newsletter #48. Read more here

 

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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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