Newsletter

A NeuroMat network to empower persons with Parkinson's disease in shaping therapeutic strategies

FAPESP’s Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat) has launched in September a network to promote the collaboration of patients, families and professionals health to face clinical and research challenges associated with Parkinson’s disease. This initiative is called Amparo in Portuguese and is coordinated by the NeuroMat investigator Maria Elisa Pimentel Piemonte, a physical therapist and professor at the University of Sao Paulo.

A brain soccer derby: a NeuroMat story by Antonio Galves

Imagine a packed Maracanã soccer stadium, on a day of a derby of Flamengo against Fluminense, in Rio de Janeiro. Seventy thousand fans are in the stadium. Now imagine that someone can hear the crowd, but has no view over what happens on the field. He tries to make sense of what happens in the game —scores, good hits, fouls, penalty kicks, red cards— based on the crowd’s reactions.

New functionalities to store neuroscience data and metadata in NeuroMat’s freely-shared computational tool

The Neuroscience Experiments System (NES) is an open-source tool to manage clinical data gathered in hospitals and research institutions, that the technology-transfer team at FAPESP’s NeuroMat has developed since 2014. The scientific challenge that the development of this tool addresses is that neuroscience experiments generate heterogeneous data formats and complex metadata, such as provenance information, and NES —currently available on a 0.12 version — intends to provide a unified repository for data and metadata from different natures (i.e., clinical, imaging, behavioral).

In praise of Ernesto Hamburger, NeuroMat’s first dissemination team leader

The RIDC NeuroMat, with support from USP's Physics Institute and FAPESP, held the roundtable "Challenges of Scientific Dissemination: In praise of Ernesto Hamburger", one June 9. Prof. Hamburger was NeuroMat's first dissemination team leader. Current dissemination team leader in the RIDC, Fernando Paixão introduced Prof. Hamburger's contribution and the roundtable and the transcript of this talk was translated into English.

Moving brain theory along mathematical simplicity and biological plausibility

Mathematical simplicity and biological plausibility. The combining of these two axes is at the core of the inception and development of FAPESP’s Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat). “Without biology, mathematicians can at most generate nice models, that could have internal coherence, but remain absolutely useless to provide a conceptual framework for neuroscience. Without mathematics, neuroscientists are unable to move to a higher level of abstraction and could fall into the trap of driving all their scientific power to gather minute details that have little to inform to a systemic understanding of neural nets,” said NeuroMat’s coordinator, Antonio Galves.

Towards a collaborative network in brain science

The workshop “High-Performance Computing, Stochastic Modeling and Databases in Neuroscience,” that FAPESP's Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat) held in the last week of April, was an occasion for strengthening ties among brain-science international consortia. Specifically, this event contributed to engaging NeuroMat’s technology-transfer team within the network that is facilitated by the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF) with the forthcoming creation of creation of an INCF Special Interest Group on “stochastic modeling and statistical analysis of neural systems” and a formal collaboration with the INCF Program on Standards for Data Sharing, particularly with a task force on electrophysiology and on neuroimaging. INCF’s scientific director Sean Hill attended NeuroMat’s workshop and gave a talk on computational challenges of understanding the brain.

A mathematical framework for neuroscience: NeuroMat hosts event of large international brain initiatives

According to the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF), the current large-scale international brain initiatives are from the USA (the BRAIN Initiative and the Allen Institute), Europe (Human Brain Project), Japan (Brain/MINDS), Israel (IBT), Republic of Korea (Korea Brain Research Institute), China (China Brain) and Australia (AusBrain). Therefore, there are no internationally recognized Brazilian brain projects, not even Latin-american projects.

NeuroMat’s web-2.0 dissemination: towards an integrated wiki strategy

Almost simultaneously readers of the scholar journal Scientific Reports and the Portuguese and English editions of the electronic encyclopaedia Wikipedia had access to the same finding: the relationship between predictability and reaction time is sigmoid, not linear. This finding goes in contrast to what is known as Hick’s Law, a theory on the time a person takes to make a decision as a function of the possibilities that this person faces: more specifically, it is traditionally stated that the reaction time increases as a linear function of the log of the number of alternatives.

Of gaming, multidisciplinary science, and the functioning of the brain

Will the penalty taker shoot for the right, left or center of the football goal? Professional goalkeepers know that they must take into consideration as much information as possible to prevent the score: the history of the rival player, the position of the taker before contact, and so on. By doing so, goalkeepers are in fact generating a model to improve their prediction about how to stop the hit, though they might not even realize the cognitive process at play. This general idea —that one could call the Goalkeeper’s Dilemma— is potentially the basis of a renewed contribution to the understanding of brain functioning, at least according to members of an ongoing research project at FAPESP’s Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat).

NeuroMat’s strategic directions for the next two years

NeuroMat has launched a strategic roadmap to direct research, technology-transfer and scientific-dissemination activities until 2018. NeuroMat is the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)’s Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics, created in 2013 and hosted at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. The general goal of this project that probabilist Antonio Galves leads since its inception is to devise the new mathematics that are needed to make sense of the large, continuous inflow of research results neurobiology generates.

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NeuroMat

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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