Newsletter

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.

On the VI Latin American School on Computational Neuroscience (LASCON 2016): a NeuroMat op-ed

The subfield of neuroscience devoted to theory is called “computational neuroscience” and the reason for this is not only the obvious fact that we need computers to simulate brain models. The main reason is that the brain can be viewed as a system that does computations. Not computations in the sense that our digital computers do but in a broader sense, the one in which physical and chemical variables. Sensitive to the importance of computational neuroscience, developed countries in North America, Europe and Asia have been keeping courses and schools on computational neuroscience since the mid-1980s to foster the development of new generations of neuroscientists skilled in this area. As for Brazil and Latin America, until the mid-2000s we did not have a school on computational neuroscience, and LASCON is filling this gap.

Public-school sciences fair gives visibility to NeuroMat's educational activities

How does our brain process what we see, how do we make sense of colors? What is the relationship between our senses and our nervous system? How do we express the variability of experiments in data and graphics? Such issues were explored in scientific projects of elementary school students from four public institutions in the 1st Sciences Fair of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat), funded by FAPESP, in partnership with the Institutional Scholarship Program for Teacher Initiation (Pibid) of the Institute of Biosciences (IB) of the University of São Paulo (USP). The official name of the fair was "Connecting Public School and Scientific Research.” (In Portuguese.)

Random graphs in the brain: devising a renewed line of research

To make sense of neural connectivity is among the key challenges in neuroscience. This remains fundamentally a neuromathematical challenge, to the extent that the mathematical theory to understand patterns of connectivity is still to be made, but also also a communicational challenge, since it requires the bridging of relevant but still unconnected fields, such as experimental neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, functional imaging, probability, statistics and computer science. These two challenges are the core of the scientific project of FAPESP’s Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat), which held from November 23 to 27 the workshop “Random Graphs in the Brain,” at the University of São Paulo, Brazil.

Collaboration among mathematicians and neuroscientists is a necessity to move brain theory forward: an interview with Remco van der Hofstad

The collaboration between Mathematics and Neuroscience has evolved in the last five years, from being just a tentative association of interest and exchange to building a joint research agenda that could lead to fundamental progress in the understanding of the brain. This is the general view of mathematician Remco van der Hofstad, who has been at the forefront of this collaboration and co-organizes the workshop “Random Graphs in the Brain”, that NeuroMat will host at the end of November in São Paulo.

Neuromathematical challenges to predicting psychosis onset in high-risk youths

NeuroMat research-team members have been involved in quantifying semantics as a means of understanding behavior and in a recent publication have tested automated speech analyses combined with machine learning processes to predict psychosis onset in youths at clinical high-risk for psychosis. NeuroMat members Guillermo Cecchi, from the IBM T. J.

NeuroMat supercomputer to simulate neuronal systems

The Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat) should launch soon a High-Performance Computational Center at the University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto campus, and thus advance in the understanding of interacting neuronal systems. "Simulations provide models on which one may apply and test hypotheses that remained at an abstract level.

Breakthroughs in modeling systems of interacting neurons: NeuroMat's second report of activities

The CEPID NeuroMat submitted its Second Report of Activities on July, 28th, which shows consistent advances in the development of a new class of stochastic processes to model systems of interacting neurons, as introduced by Antonio Galves and Eva Löcherbach, in 2013. This document is required by the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), the funding entity of the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (CEPID NeuroMat), and presented detailed accounts of scientific, dissemination and technology-transfer activities.

"Spike Sorting," a NeuroMat movie

The Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (FAPESP’s CEPID NeuroMat) released in June the movie “Spike Sorting: Ontology Droplet,” a nine-minute-long introduction and step-by-step presentation of a technique to classify neuronal spikes featuring Prof. Christophe Pouzat, a researcher of the Applied Maths Laboratory of the Paris-Descartes University and a specialist in spike sorting.

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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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