Brain Dynamics and Statistics: Simulation versus Data (17w5036)


(University of Copenhagen)

(University of British Colombia)

(University of Ottawa)


The Banff International Research Station will host the "Brain Dynamics and Statistics: Simulation versus Data" workshop from February 26th to March 3rd, 2017.

The human brain is arguably the most complex biological structure. Making sense of its inner workings poses an enormous challenge. Different components of its activity evolve over periods ranging from one thousandth of a second to years, and over distances of one millionth of a meter to the size of the skull. Experiments perturb and probe activity over these scales of time and space, yielding reams of data. Our cohort of scientists is leading the effort to organize these data into a coherent picture using state-of-the-art mathematical modelling techniques. This picture encompasses deterministic and random components. This is a consequence of the fact that part of the brain's activity seems to evolve in a predictable structured manner, while other parts are unpredictable, even when responding to the same stimulus or initiating the same action.

The goal of this workshop is to develop methods to characterize these components, how they interact with each other, and how this interaction changes when stimuli impinge on the brain or the brain acts upon its environment. The techniques and advances to be discussed are at the forefront of two fields that seldom come together, namely dynamics and statistics, which respectively address the predictable and unpredictable aspects of the brain's behaviour. The rising and established experts brought together by this workshop aim to gain a deeper understanding of the brain's operational principles in the presence of variability, an understanding grounded in quantifiable "statistical" certainty. The group is also driven by potential novel directions in mathematics that the intersection of concepts from dynamics and statistics will offer.

The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is a collaborative Canada-US-Mexico venture that provides
an environment for creative interaction as well as the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the Mathematical Sciences, with related disc
iplines and with industry. The research station is located at The Banff Centre in Alberta and is supported by Canada's Natural Science and Engineeri
ng Research Council (NSERC), the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), Alberta's Advanced Education and Technology, and Mexico's Consejo Nacional
de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT).