PhD in Mathematical Neuroscience: The dynamics of branched nonlinear dendritic trees
A fully funded PhD studentship in the area of Mathematical Neuroscience is currently
available within the Centre for Mathematical Medicine, School of Mathematical
Sciences, University of Nottingham, UK. The offer is open to European Union citizens
only.
Project description
A single neuron consists of a cell body and the branched processes,
called dendrites, emanating from it. The tree is the largest
volumetric component of neural tissue in the brain, and consumes 60%
of the brains energy. Importantly, the developmental changes in
dendrites have been proposed as a mechanism for learning and memory.
Furthermore, experiments have shown a definite relationship between
dendritic branching structure and neuronal firing patterns. As
dendrites form the predominant elements in neurons, so dendritic
spines form the dominant component of many types of dendritic
trees. They are small mushroom like appendages with a bulbous head and
a tenuous stem and may be found in their hundreds of thousands on the
dendritic tree of a single cortical pyramidal cell. These extensions
of the dendritic tree provide junction points for the axons of other
neurons, and thus serve as loci for receiving inputs. Direct
observations confirm earlier speculations that spine heads possess
excitable channels capable of generating action potentials
(spikes). As a consequence signal processing in the spatially extended
dendritic tree is likely to be highly nonlinear. Theoretical
explorations of the biophysical consequences of such nonlinearities
have shown that global signals, in the form of travelling waves, may
arise from a succession of local all-or-none events at the spine
heads. A PhD student will consider the scattering of nonlinear waves
in branching dendritic trees with active spines, neural response to
synaptic input and the effects of biophysically motivated Hebbian
learning schemes. This will involve drawing upon a number of
techniques from different scientific disciplines, predominantly from
nonlinear dynamics, numerical analysis of stochastic and deterministic
systems and techniques from different scientific disciplines,
predominantly from nonlinear dynamics, numerical analysis of
stochastic and deterministic systems and computational neuroscience.
Further details can be found at
http://www.maths.nottingham.ac.uk/personal/sc/phd.html
This project would be suitable for candidates with a good class degree in
mathematics, physics or computational neuroscience.
The successful candidate would be expected to take up their studies by 1st October
2005.
In the first instance enquiries should be addressed to
Dr Steve Coombes
Centre for Mathematical Medicine
School of Mathematical Sciences
University of Nottingham
Nottingham
NG7 2RD
UK