Topological insights in neuroscience

Presented by ANU College of Science

The brain of each and every one of us is composed of hundreds of billions of neurons - often called nerve cells - connected by hundreds of trillions of synapses, which transmit electrical signals from one neuron to another.

In reaction to stimulus, waves of electrical activity traverse the network of neurons, processing the incoming information. The hidden structure in this dynamic tapestry has only recently come to light, thanks to the tools provided by the field of mathematics called algebraic topology.

During this talk, Professor Hess will guide the audience on a mathematical mystery tour of our new vision of how the brain processes information and explain how it accelerates the development of a new field - digital neuroscience - with the potential to vastly expand our understanding of brain function.

Kathryn Hess Bellwald is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and is known for her work on homotopy theory, category theory, and algebraic topology, both pure and applied.

In particular, she applies the methods of algebraic topology to better understanding neurology, cancer biology, and materials science.

This talk will be followed by hors-d'oeuvres and light refreshments.