Biological Networks (UPM-URJC)

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From Left to right: Irene Sendiña-Nadal, Daniel de Santos, Juan A. Almendral, Javier M. Buldú, Inmaculada Leyva.

Target: Multivariate and non linear analysis of electromagnetic brain signals using tools from the theory of complex networks and experimental study of the relationship between structure and function in cultured neuronal networks and with electronic circuits.

Description: The BioNet Lab aims at developing theoretical models to describe and to characterize the functioning of the brain functional networks, mainly from the point of view of information processing capacity, robustness against failures and the relationship between the topological parameters and cognitive skills. Once the characteristic performance of such functional networks is understood, evolutionary models will be developed to reproduce the imbalances in brain activity occurring at both mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s diseases.

The study of how an assembly of isolated neurons self-organizes to form a complex neural network is a fundamental problem to be addressed. At this microscopic level, we aim at understanding how the neural network is capable of initiating an activity, how it responds to failures on its connections or what is the relationship between physiology and function/dysfunction in small cultured neuronal networks.

Techniques: The techniques to be implemented both in the multivariate analysis of brain signals and in the analysis of cultured neuronal networks consist of the use of tools coming from complex network theory to characterize the topological and functional structure of the associated networks (degree distribution, clustering, network diameter, modularity, assortativity, centrality, vulnerability, synchronization capacity…). Time analysis will use different types of synchronization measures (phase or complete synchronization), complexity indicators measuring the degree of functional/structural segregation and integration in the network… Regarding the experimental work with in vitro neuronal networks, the techniques involve the basic tasks of production and manipulation of biological samples.

Infrastructure: Dissection equipment (stereomicroscope, CO2), autoclave, horizontal laminar flow hood, refrigerated incubator, inverted phase contrast optical microscope with automated XY stage and small equipment typical from a cell culture lab (microcentrifuge,ph-meter,mini-incubator). Equipment for the acquisition, processing and generation of electronic signals (ultra-fast acquisition card, high resolution oscilloscope, function generator and data/processing server).

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