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 the Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (NeuroMat) will host at the end of November in São Paulo. The workshop's official website is: neuromat.numec.prp.usp.br/rgbrain. Professor in probability at Eindhoven University of Technology and scientific director of the European Institute for Statistics, Probability, Stochastic Operations Research and its Applications (EURANDOM), Hofstad discusses challenges and perspectives of modeling at the neuronal and functional levels. He has been the leading person of the workshop on “Random Graphs and the Brain,” in 2011, in Eindhoven, and in the interview that follows makes sense of the evolution of the understanding of brain connectivity. "To some extent, we are moving from an attempt to establish a collaboration among neuroscientists and mathematicians to organizing joint research. In 2011, random graph theory and brain theory needed to be bridged, now we moved further and this is evident in the title change from 2011 and 2015. Things are getting more concrete.”

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. Watson Research Center, Sidarta Ribeiro, from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Mauro Copelli, from the Federal University of Pernambuco, and colleagues have shown that speech features predicted later psychosis development with 100% accuracy. NeuroMat is the São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP)’s Research, Innovation and Dissemination Center for Neuromathematics (RIDC NeuroMat) and was launched in 2013 to contribute to creating a mathematical framework for neuroscience.

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. The key challenge is to incorporate as many key features in the simulations for the results to be meaningful," said Antonio Carlos Roque, a NeuroMat principal investigator and the coordinator of NeuroMat's supercomputer cluster.

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. A link to the report is available here.

"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. The movie is available with subtitles in English (original language) and in Portuguese on Youtube and Wikimedia Commons. Released under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 3.0), the movie may be freely shared, as long as original attribution is properly specified.

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