Mathematics - Florida State University

Bertram's Colloquium



Speaker: Richard Bertram
Title: Mathematical Modeling of Neuronal Communication and Short-Term Plasticity.
Affiliation: Institute of Molecular Biophysics, FSU.
Date: Friday, February 2, 2001.
Place and Time: Room 101 - Love Building, 3:35-4:30 pm.
Refreshments: Room 204 - Love Building, 3:00 pm.

Abstract. The brain is an extraordinarily complex machine, consisting of many millions of nerve cells, or neurons, interconnected at junctions called synapses. The synapses, though small, are responsible for much of the information processing that occurs in the brain, and are where memories are stored. The biophysical role of the synapse is to transduce electrical incoming signals into chemical signals by secreting neurotransmitters. This seminar will describe ongoing mathematical modeling and computational analysis of many of the steps involved in the secretion of neurotransmitters, and how this secretion can be enhanced or depressed over time, resulting in filtering of information and short-term plasticity. Secretion is a stochastic process, and the models involve time-varying probability functions that are described by hyperbolic partial differential equations. From these, ordinary differential equations for the mean values are derived and used in most of the computational analysis. Finally, the model for transmitter secretion is coupled to a model for G-protein inhibition to investigate the functional role of these ubiquitous chemical modulators in signal processing at synapses. It is shown that G-protein autoinhibition acts as a high-pass filter, enhancing the spatial contrast that allows sensory systems to distinguish input stimuli.


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Last modified: Thursday January 25th, 2001