Imaging dynamical brain networks using hybrid dynamical models

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: School of Biological Sciences

Abstract

Dynamic reorganisation of a functional brain network may be related to shifts in brain state, such as those associated with adaptation and learning. From a clinical perspective, changes in the relative contribution of brain areas (plasticity) or their interactions (effective connectivity) underpin the early stages of a number of developmental (e.g Dyslexia) and psychiatric (e.g. depression, psychosis), but most prominently neurodegenerative (e.g. Alzheimer's or Parkinson's) conditions. Due to plasticity, changes in effective connectivity may precede any changes in brain structure or in observed behaviour. Early detection and monitoring of such changes by means of non-invasive imaging techniques like EEG (or MEG) is vital if early intervention and early rehabilitation strategies were to be successful . Most current analyses of effective connectivity (EC) assume that the architecture and connection strengths of the functional network are static in time, or differ between task conditions at known time points. Thus, current approaches cannot be used to detect dynamic changes in network organisation at arbitrary time points or in the absence of a cognitive task, such as during on-going EEG monitoring and diagnosis of the above neurological conditions. I propose to develop a novel model and a toolbox for estimating the time-dependent effective connectivity of the dynamical brain network underlying the on-going EEG, and to test its accuracy and limits in detecting changes in effective brain connectivity induced by Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Prior anatomical connectivity information and probabilistic atlases, derived from Diffusion Weighted Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DWMRI), will be used to inform the model about the likely architecture of the functional network and about the likely anatomical location of sources, respectively. The goal is to provide a low-cost and fast application to detect, track and predict early changes in brain causal networks and their dynamics from the on-going EEG. Given the current emphasis on reducing the social and economic impact of neurodegeneration as highlighted by the Prime Minister's dementia challenge, the specific focus here is on using TMS to induce small changes in two exemplars of distributed networks that simulate semantic and motor neurodegeneration as a demonstration of what this method can detect. The proposed model has the potential to change strategies for screening and early diagnosis of neurodegenerative conditions. It opens the possibility for developing new clinical applications that impact on the study of the aging brain and mental health, as well as the analysis of a wide variety of brain activity including normal during decision-making, resting-state and social behaviour.

Planned Impact

This fellowship develops a new mathematical method for the analysis of brain function that will allow neuroscientists to study the dynamics of brain state transitions during spontaneous (not evoked by experimental tasks) brain activity, which are inaccessible using conventional techniques. The project transfers stochastic dynamical systems methods and models that have been successful in the study of non-biological complex systems, to the study of the living brain. Under very general assumptions, such dynamical models can respond in a way that resembles brain behaviour in a wide variety of situations, which will provide valuable insights into the brain mechanisms underlying normal as well as abnormal behaviour. The most immediate impact is expected through uptake of the developed method by researchers in clinical and cognitive Neuroscience and engineers/neuroimagers/modellers working on the development of clinical applications. The fellow will advance this uptake through direct collaboration with leading Neuroscientists (Lambon-Ralph) and Neuroimagers/modellers (Parker, Cootes, El-Deredy) at the host institution (University of Manchester) and will explore the potential for collaboration with other groups (attendance to conferences and workshops targeting different impact groups are planned).

Two main directions in which the proposed research will find its way into applications are currently on the horizon.

(1) Clinical and cognitive Neuroscience investigates underlying mechanisms and new treatments for developmental (e.g Dyslexia) and psychiatric (e.g. depression, psychosis), but most prominently neurodegenerative (e.g. Alzheimer's or Parkinson's) conditions. In most of these conditions, the interesting data are recorded during spontaneous (non-task related) brain activity. Therefore, the development of a tool for the non-invasive detection and monitoring of brain state transitions, that allow differentiating normal from abnormal brain function in the absence of an experimental task is vital if early intervention and early rehabilitation strategies were to be successful. Furthermore decoupling experimental design from the analysis method extends the range of feasible laboratory testing conditions.

(2) By using spontaneous EEG (and potentially other non-invasive Neuroimaging techniques with a time component) to infer brain network dynamics, the proposed method provides a new way to make feedback control non-invasive (that is, applying control without changing the natural behaviour). The proposed method then provides a new avenue for interaction with the neural system without disturbing its natural state. In doing so, it also opens a range of possibilities for the development of biomedical applications based on non-invasive control, such as Neuro-feedback and Brain Computer Interfaces. Furthermore, with the recent development of low-cost portable EEG devices, the proposed method can also allow for the provision of personalised therapeutic treatment.

Publications

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Bajada CJ (2019) A structural connectivity convergence zone in the ventral and anterior temporal lobes: Data-driven evidence from structural imaging. in Cortex; a journal devoted to the study of the nervous system and behavior

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Lea-Carnall CA (2016) Cortical Resonance Frequencies Emerge from Network Size and Connectivity. in PLoS computational biology

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Lea-Carnall CA (2017) Evidence for frequency-dependent cortical plasticity in the human brain. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

 
Description When we are at rest or performing a task, our brain is continuously working and therefore its internal state is continuously changing from one Brain State (BS) or mode of operation to another. Such dynamical flexibility is achieved by modulating the connections between different neuronal populations in order to rapidly adapt to its internal or external context. Alteration of the way these fluctuations occur over time can be a marker of abnormal behaviour as in e.g. Neurodegeneration or of normal changes during e.g. healthy ageing. Therefore detection and characterisation of the BS dynamics might be a promising avenue towards early diagnosis of Neurodegenerative diseases or to monitor healthy ageing. However, this is a challenging inference task because BS are typically not directly observed and we can only access indirect fingerprints that BS transitions leave on non-invasively recorded data, such as Electro-Encephalography (EEG) and functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). In this grant, I have developed a new method and a related software toolbox capable of detecting BSs and the dynamical properties of their transitions using spontaneous EEG, which is the cheapest and most widely available brain imaging technique. We have demonstrated the superiority of our method with respect to the state-of-the-art approaches and have produced a user friendly and publicly available software toolbox.

As a proof of concept of the potential applicability of the tool, we are currently running a study in a cohort of Parkinson's disease patients in collaboration with the University of Maastricht and the University of Valparaiso, Chile. These patients have undergone a therapeutic intervention known to improve their motor performance (improved gait and stride length). The preliminary results show that the method is capable of detecting and quantifying properties of the brain state dynamics that correlate with the behavioural improvement, such as the amount of time that the brain spends on any given state (fractional occupancy). However the tool has also shown features of the BS dynamics that remain unchanged after training, such as the life time (duration) of a BS before transitioning to another BS. This might explain why the intervention is not equally effective in all subjects and that it has only a temporary effect. A possible development in this direction could be for example to design new therapies aiming at modifying BS durations in a way that they can get closer to normal conditions and see if the therapy effects can last longer or even become permanent.
Exploitation Route Although it is still too early to assess the actual impact of our results, the developed tool has already generated a great interest in both the clinical and non-clinical research community. This is reflected in personal invitations to deliver talks and demonstrations of the tool to some of the most prestigious institutions in the world, such as the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (CBU) (Cambridge University), the Translational Neuroimaging Institute (UCL), the Translational Neuromodeling Unit (TNU) (ETH Zurich) and the Oxford Centre for Human Brain Activity among others. As a result, we have already started collaborating with some of these institutions in the application of our Toolbox to the study of different neurological conditions and ageing (MRC-CBU), as well as on the extension of the method in different directions (TNU). In Manchester, in collaboration with the Pain Research Group of the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, we have secured initial funding for the development of Neurofeedback applications for the treatment of chronic pain. This application plans to use our tool for the online detection of the target BSs most sensitive to external analgesic (sensory) stimulation. In a related application the idea is to use the too detect BSs associated with maximal pain control and use the feedback signal to train patients to "maintain" those BSs for as long as possible.

The method we have proposed has its roots in the theory of Hybrid Dynamical Systems and the modelling of such systems in other fields such as Artificial Intelligence. Therefore the results of our project and the insides these might provide on how the brain works could also have implications for future developments in those other fields.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

URL https://braindynamicslab.org/
 
Description Arthritis Research UK (ARUK) Pain Challenge Award: "Validating a new model of nociceptive plasticity affecting chronic pain"
Amount £199,572 (GBP)
Funding ID CB/21525 
Organisation Versus Arthritis 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 08/2021
 
Description DRI Momentum Award: "Electrical stimulation to delay the onset of dementia"
Amount £750,000 (GBP)
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2017 
End 11/2018
 
Description Dunhill Medical Trust research Project Grant: "Measuring and enhancing resilience to chronic pain in elderly patients with arthritis using neurofeedback"
Amount £155,424 (GBP)
Funding ID R521/1116 
Organisation The Dunhill Medical Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 08/2019
 
Description FONDECYT Regular Project Grant: "Imaging switching brain dynamics"
Amount Ch$197,023,000 (CLP)
Funding ID 1161378 
Organisation National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT) 
Sector Public
Country Chile
Start 09/2016 
End 09/2020
 
Description MRC Confidence in Concept (CiC5): "Stimulating the brain to reduce chronic pain in the elderly"
Amount £67,797 (GBP)
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2018 
End 05/2019
 
Description MRC Confidence in Concept Round 7 (MRC CiC7): "Neurofeedback platform for long-term use in patients with chronic arthritic pain"
Amount £72,202 (GBP)
Organisation Medical Research Council (MRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2020 
End 10/2020
 
Description NewMind Plus Feasibility Funding Stage 1: "Towards a next generation platform for personalised neuro-therapeutic interventions in chronic pain"
Amount £15,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NMP R119823/FS/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2017 
End 06/2018
 
Description NewMind Plus Feasibility Funding Stage 2: "Real-time brain modelling for personalised neuro-therapeutic interventions in chronic pain"
Amount £45,000 (GBP)
Funding ID NMP R119823/FS/GDA3 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2018 
End 05/2019
 
Description PAI-CONICYT Short Stays Modality (MEC): "Using Bayesian models for the analysis of neuroimaging data"
Amount Ch$12,495,000 (CLP)
Funding ID PAI80160053 
Organisation National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT) 
Sector Public
Country Chile
Start 09/2017 
 
Description Travel Award Competition
Amount Ch$2,300,000 (CLP)
Organisation University of Valparaiso 
Sector Academic/University
Country Chile
Start 07/2016 
End 01/2017
 
Title Frequency-dependent cortical plasticity 
Description This dataset contains fMRI data relating to the paper entitled 'Frequency-dependent cortical plasticity: evidence from psychophysics, functional imaging and computational modelling' 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact So far this dataset is being used by researchers in other institutions for the study of neuroplasticity effects evoked using sensory stimulation. This study opens an opportunity for developing non-invasive therapies or optimised learning strategies via evoking neuroplasticity in a safe non-invassive way. 
URL https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/en/datasets/frequencydependent-cortical-plasticity-evid...
 
Description Collaboration with the University of Valparaiso 
Organisation University of Valparaiso
Country Chile 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am named as visiting Professor at the School of Biomedical Engineering of the University of Valparaiso. In this role, I contribute to some of their projects by providing expertise and intellectual input in the field of Bayesian Inference and mathematical modelling of brain signals. I also co-supervise the training of several PhD students: - One PhD in Biomedical Engineering (David Araya): Use of Hybrid Systems' models for the dynamic allocation of Brain states based on spontaneous EEG recordings - One PhD in Biomedical Engineering (Rodrigo Avaria): Use of non-parametric Bayesian approaches for the automatic estimation of Brain States dimensionality from single subject and group EEG studies - One PhD in Computational Neuroscience (Monica Otero): Studying mechanisms of neural entrainment in whole brain networks of realistically interconnected mean-field models of neural masses.
Collaborator Contribution The members of the Valparaiso team have a long standing expertise in the fields of machine learning, signal processing and software engineering, specifically oriented to the development of Biomedical Engineering applications. Their contribution to this colaboration will make possible to acelerate the delivery of a user friendly software package implementing the mathematical models and methods developed during our project and beyond. This contribution is key for the dissemination of our tools to the wider community and to maximise the impact of our outcomes.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration including disciplines such as Biomedical Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Physics, Statistics, Psychology, Neuroscience and Biology. Outcomes that have resulted from this collaboration: - University of Valparaiso: - Travel Award Competition (CLP 2300000; 2016 - 2017) - National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT): PAI80160053 - PAI-CONICYT Short Stays Modality (MEC) (CLP 12495000; 2017 - 2018) - National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT): 1161378 - FONDECYT Regular Project Grant (CLP 197023000; 2016 - 2020) - Participation in an activity, workshop or similar - Integrated Systems Neuroscience Workshop 2017 - A talk or presentation - School Visit (Grecia), Vaparaíso, Chile (2017) - Participation in an activity, workshop or similar - Latin American Summer School on Computational Neuroscience (LACONEU 2017) - Personally asked as a key note speaker to a conference - Workshop on Computational Neuroscience - "New trends and challenges for 2030". (2017)
Start Year 2016
 
Description Pain Research Collaboration 
Organisation Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This collaboration aims at developing and validating a new model of nociceptive plasticity affecting chronic pain. I contribute by providing expertise in the area of Computational Neurosocience and development of methods to analyse EEG activity. My role is to supervise the development of a computational model of nociceptive plasticity and the use of methods developed in my group for the identification of these models based on Human EEG recordings. The ultimate goal is to develop an EEG-based Neurofeedback application for the terapeutic treatment of Chronic Pain.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners provide a world-leading multidisciplinary and collaborative environment for chronic pain research and clinical care at the Walton Centre, the University of Liverpool and the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust. They contribute by providing experts in the research, education and practice of pain medicine, clinical and experimental psychology and neuroscience. Particularly, they will provide access to a vast population of chronic pain patients attending the Pain Clinics at The Walton Centre and at the Salford Royal Hospital, which is critical for the success of this collaboration by providing an invaluable source of data for the validation of the models and methods that will be developed during the collaboration, as a tool for monitoring chronic pain.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration including disciplines such as Computational Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Statistics, Signal Processing, Electronic Engineering, Psychology, Clinical Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience and Biology. Outcomes that have resulted from this collaboration: - Medical Research Council (MRC): - MRC Confidence in Concept Round 7 (MRC CiC7): (£ 72202; 2020 - 2020) - Medical Research Council (MRC): - MRC Confidence in Concept (CiC5): (£ 67797; 2018 - 2019) - Arthritis Research UK: CB/21525 - Arthritis Research UK (ARUK) Pain Challenge Award: (£ 199572; 2017 - 2021) - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC): NMP R119823/FS/GDA3 - NewMind Plus Feasibility Funding Stage 2: (£ 45000; 2018 - 2019) - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC): NMP R119823/FS/1 - NewMind Plus Feasibility Funding Stage 1: (£ 15000; 2017 - 2018) - The Dunhill Medical Trust: R521/1116 - Dunhill Medical Trust research Project Grant: (£ 155424; 2017 - 2019)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Pain Research Collaboration 
Organisation The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust
Department Pain Medicine
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Hospitals 
PI Contribution This collaboration aims at developing and validating a new model of nociceptive plasticity affecting chronic pain. I contribute by providing expertise in the area of Computational Neurosocience and development of methods to analyse EEG activity. My role is to supervise the development of a computational model of nociceptive plasticity and the use of methods developed in my group for the identification of these models based on Human EEG recordings. The ultimate goal is to develop an EEG-based Neurofeedback application for the terapeutic treatment of Chronic Pain.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners provide a world-leading multidisciplinary and collaborative environment for chronic pain research and clinical care at the Walton Centre, the University of Liverpool and the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust. They contribute by providing experts in the research, education and practice of pain medicine, clinical and experimental psychology and neuroscience. Particularly, they will provide access to a vast population of chronic pain patients attending the Pain Clinics at The Walton Centre and at the Salford Royal Hospital, which is critical for the success of this collaboration by providing an invaluable source of data for the validation of the models and methods that will be developed during the collaboration, as a tool for monitoring chronic pain.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration including disciplines such as Computational Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Statistics, Signal Processing, Electronic Engineering, Psychology, Clinical Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience and Biology. Outcomes that have resulted from this collaboration: - Medical Research Council (MRC): - MRC Confidence in Concept Round 7 (MRC CiC7): (£ 72202; 2020 - 2020) - Medical Research Council (MRC): - MRC Confidence in Concept (CiC5): (£ 67797; 2018 - 2019) - Arthritis Research UK: CB/21525 - Arthritis Research UK (ARUK) Pain Challenge Award: (£ 199572; 2017 - 2021) - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC): NMP R119823/FS/GDA3 - NewMind Plus Feasibility Funding Stage 2: (£ 45000; 2018 - 2019) - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC): NMP R119823/FS/1 - NewMind Plus Feasibility Funding Stage 1: (£ 15000; 2017 - 2018) - The Dunhill Medical Trust: R521/1116 - Dunhill Medical Trust research Project Grant: (£ 155424; 2017 - 2019)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Pain Research Collaboration 
Organisation University of Liverpool
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution This collaboration aims at developing and validating a new model of nociceptive plasticity affecting chronic pain. I contribute by providing expertise in the area of Computational Neurosocience and development of methods to analyse EEG activity. My role is to supervise the development of a computational model of nociceptive plasticity and the use of methods developed in my group for the identification of these models based on Human EEG recordings. The ultimate goal is to develop an EEG-based Neurofeedback application for the terapeutic treatment of Chronic Pain.
Collaborator Contribution Our partners provide a world-leading multidisciplinary and collaborative environment for chronic pain research and clinical care at the Walton Centre, the University of Liverpool and the Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust. They contribute by providing experts in the research, education and practice of pain medicine, clinical and experimental psychology and neuroscience. Particularly, they will provide access to a vast population of chronic pain patients attending the Pain Clinics at The Walton Centre and at the Salford Royal Hospital, which is critical for the success of this collaboration by providing an invaluable source of data for the validation of the models and methods that will be developed during the collaboration, as a tool for monitoring chronic pain.
Impact This is a multi-disciplinary collaboration including disciplines such as Computational Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering, Applied Mathematics, Statistics, Signal Processing, Electronic Engineering, Psychology, Clinical Neuroscience, Cognitive Neuroscience and Biology. Outcomes that have resulted from this collaboration: - Medical Research Council (MRC): - MRC Confidence in Concept Round 7 (MRC CiC7): (£ 72202; 2020 - 2020) - Medical Research Council (MRC): - MRC Confidence in Concept (CiC5): (£ 67797; 2018 - 2019) - Arthritis Research UK: CB/21525 - Arthritis Research UK (ARUK) Pain Challenge Award: (£ 199572; 2017 - 2021) - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC): NMP R119823/FS/GDA3 - NewMind Plus Feasibility Funding Stage 2: (£ 45000; 2018 - 2019) - Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC): NMP R119823/FS/1 - NewMind Plus Feasibility Funding Stage 1: (£ 15000; 2017 - 2018) - The Dunhill Medical Trust: R521/1116 - Dunhill Medical Trust research Project Grant: (£ 155424; 2017 - 2019)
Start Year 2017
 
Title Brain State Dynamics (BSD) Toolbox 
Description The Brain State Dynamics Toolbox is an open source MATLAB Toolbox implementing a new data analysis technique developed in our group for the identification and prediction of changes in Brain Sates in naturalistic situations (i.e. not necessarily under controlled experimental conditions), using non-invasive neuro-imaging measurements of brain activity (such as M/EEG and fMRI). 
Type Of Technology Software 
Year Produced 2018 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact The new technique ha spotential for a wide range of clinical and non-clinical applications including e.g. the early diagnosis of neuro-degenerative disease (such as dementias, Parkinson's, e.t.c...) as well as the study healthy aeging. Both of these applications are currently being pursued in our group. We have started a collaboration with the Pain Research Group at the Salford Royal Medical Trust for the application of our technique to the identification of a marker of chronic pain using resting-state EEG as well as the development of a Neurofeedback application for the treatment of this condition. We have already started advancing in this direction by succeeding in several funding applications to pursue this idea (see further funding section). 
URL https://braindynamicslab.org/code/
 
Description EPSRC Healthcare Technologies Hive Event - HTHive 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact This was a two-day invitation-only event that brought together for the first time the leading UK researchers funded by EPSRC's Healthcare Technologies theme, together with key stakeholder groups for talks, workshops and networking. The invited award holders currently account for a combined RCUK grant portfolio in excess of £420m, so this was a fantastic forum for exploring key topics with a group of like-minded and successful individuals.

HTHive provided a unique opportunity to:

- Influence EPSRC's approach to supporting research and training for a Healthy Nation;
- Share best practice in managing and leading large EPSRC research and training grants;
- Connect with a cohort of influential and well informed researchers, funders and users of healthcare technology research.

Of particular interest was the opportunity to engage with more than 10 charities in the sector of Healthcare Technologies in the same place and discuss ideas on how to combine efforts to solve key health problems at the national and the international level. This was a unique opportunity to discuss how developments from STEM sciences can be used to solve quite practical problems and to develop a more goal directed research agenda aiming at solving these problems. As a result our group is now in contact with other researchers in Oxford and Newcastle in order to join efforts in the area of early diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://twitter.com/hashtag/hthive17
 
Description ISN Workshop 2017 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact We presented two posters, during the International Integrated Systems Neuroscience Workshop organised in Manchester 2017. This Workshop gathered international researchers and post-graduate students from several communities of beneficiaries targeted by our project. We had the opportunity to interact with Neuroscientists, Neurobiologists and health scientists working in the field of Computational Neuroscience using both modelling and and experimental approaches. We could present and discuss with them our advances in the mathematical modelling of brain activity and how our approach can impact the way in which Computational Models are currently developed and tested. The purpose was to maximise the impact of the results of our project by identfying groups interested in the application of our tools and methods to solve clinical and non-clinical problems. As a result, we have now initiated a collaboration with another experimental group within the University looking at m odelling mechanisms of visual flow parsing. We have already identified MSc student that we are supervising in the design and run of an EEG experiment. The data collected in this experiment will be analysed using our methods and the results will be used as a pilot study to support a grant application.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/conferences-meetings/isn2017/
 
Description International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact We delivered two talks and one of the team members co-chaired the symposium "The effect of prior brain states on information processing", during the International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society. This meeting gathered international researchers and post-graduate students from several communities of beneficiaries taregeted by our project. We had the opportunity to interact with Cognitive Neuroscientists and health scientists working in the field of brain behaviour and we could discuss with them our advances in the mathematical modelling of brain activity and how these models can impact the way in which brain behaviour is currently interpreted and studied. The purpose was to maximise the impact of the results of our project by identfying groups interested in the application of our tools and methods to solve clinical and non-clinical problems. As a result, we are now in the initial stages of a formal collaboration with the Institute of Psychology Health and Society of the University of Liverpool to work on the potential application of the results of our project to the development of a next generation platform for personalised neuro-therapeutic interventions in chronic pain.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.ps2016.org/
 
Description Invited Keynote Speaker at the Faculty Research Week of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Research Institute of the Liverpool John Moores University 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Faculty Research Week of the Faculty of Engineering and Technology Research Institute at the Liverpool John Moores University is dedicated to showcase the significant contribution that postgraduate research students (PGRs) make to academic life, allowing students a platform to share their own research and gain valuable feedback. The conference develops researching skills crucial to presenting, writing, poster preparation and communicating research to an audience. The conference usually involves Faculty PGR Students, Faculty staff and keynote speakers from industry and academia.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.ljmu.ac.uk/research/centres-and-institutes/faculty-of-engineering-and-technology-researc...
 
Description Latin American Summer School on Computational Neuroscience (LACONEU 2017) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This activity was a three weeks summer school in Computational Neuroscience, where I and another member of our team (Wael El-Deredy) participated as invited professors and co-organisers in order to deliver a series of lectures on basic topics of Computational Neuroscience and on specific topics of the current research of our team. The School attracted postgraduate students and young researchers from several Latin American as well as European countries. The purpose was to initiate the students in the exciting field of Computational Neuroscience through their introduction to cutting edge mathematical and computational science tools and its applications in Biomedical Research and Clinical Application, as well as introducing the students to some of the current challenges in this area.
The feedback from both the students and the local organisers was fantastic. Except for few exceptions, the students attending the school had a main background in mathematics, engineering and physics with very little knowledge or experience in biosciences. However, by the end of the school most students reported a change in view and declared their intention to pursue their future research career doing interdisciplinary work on biomedicine and bioengineering problems, specifically in the research topics of our group. As a result, we have established a new research collaboration network between our group and the University of Valparaiso, where two students are currently being co-supervised to work on subjects directly related to our project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.laconeu.cl/
 
Description Launch event of the Brain States Dynamics Toolbox, University of Valparaiso, Chile 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact We organised a Simposium and a Workshop at the University of Valparaiso, Chile (one of our collaborating Institutions) to launch our Brain State Dynamics (BSD) Toolbox. As part of the event we also organised a training session for postgraduate students and clinicians on the use of the Toolbox for the analysis of their on datasets. Around 30 post-graduate students and clinicians from several institutions in Chile attended the Workshop. All attendees showed great interested in our tools since, in their own words, there is no equivalent of such a tool in the Neuroimaging applications area. As a results, we were invited to deliver a series of talks at the University of Concepcion (Chile), about the methods and the tools included in the BSD toolbox that we have developed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://www.sistemascomplejos.cl/events/lanzamiento-del-software-brain-state-dynamics-bsd/
 
Description Media interview, Valparaiso, Chile 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact I was interviewed by the University media during one of my accademic visits to the University of Valparaiso, Chile. I was invited to visit Chile in one of their programs to attract external world leading experts in order to advance their research in specific areas such as Biomedical Engineering. The goal of the interview was to publicise our reseach to a wider audience stressing the key role of STEM science in Bioscience, specifically in the development of healthcare technologies aim at solving challenging clinical problems, such e.g. the early diagnosis of neuro-degenerative diseases. The interview was published on the webpage of the university and reposted on twitter, receiving more than 30 likes since its publication.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.uv.cl/pdn/?id=9441
 
Description Neuroimaging Seminar Series at University of Manchester 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact This is a recurring activity that is organised at the University of Manchester, where I and other members of the team present regularly. It consists of a series of open weekly seminars on Neuroimaging where postgraduate students and research staff have the oportunity to engage in discussing ongoing research in the area of Neuroimaging in general and in their own research projects in particular. The intended purpose is to create awareness among postgraduate students as well as among staff accross the University about current advances in Neuroimaging techniques, methods and modelling carried out in Manchester, as well as to incentivate cross-faculty multidisciplinary collaborations on subjects of common interest.
Due to the success of these seminars, the University of Manchester has agreed to provide further funding to widen the reach of the meetings so that we can now invite external internationally recognaised leaders in the field to participate and deliver keynote lectures on hot research topics of interest. This initiative has the intention to increase our collaboration network accross UK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description School Visit (Grecia) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact This was a motivational public talk given by Dr Trujillo-Barreto at the community Primary School "Grecia" in the area of Valparaíso, Chile.
This was a particularly emotional and rewarding activity since this primary school is specifically for children from families with very low income. These children usually drop out of their studies after finishing primary school. The main reason for them to quit studying so early is because of their everyday life being so far away from the academic world and not being exposed to experiences beyond their immediate family experience. The majority of the children are not even aware of the opportunities that continuing their studies might bring to them. They also think of University studies as something so difficult that is only reserved to "privileged" ones (usually meaning wealthy families).
During the talk we aimed at showing the children that they are as well prepared to succeed in future studies as any other person. To achieve this I led them through exercises involving maths and physics, showing that their own brains perform highly complicated computations during everyday life activities, even more complicated than any existent computer can actually do. It was really amazing and satisfying to see these little children engage during the talk. They not only asked really smart questions, but also responded to my own questions and exercises with clever answers showing a quick and in-depth understanding of the talk.
After the talk we met with the head teacher and one of the teachers of the school and they expressed their surprise that all the children were completely absorbed by the subject and how they actively engaged. They said that these children are usually very shy and easily distracted and it is difficult to get them interested in school activities.
The impact was also evidenced by the fact that some of the children came to us directly wanting to know more about how the brain works and how maths and physics can be used to study living systems. We also received an email from the colleagues in the University of Valparaiso who helped us organise this outreach activity, where they acknowledge the importance of this type of activity for this community of children. The translation of the email reads: "[organizing this] is part of my job as responsible for outreach activities and I do it with great satisfaction, especially when we have the opportunity to do this kind of activity with communities that are often so far away from the University environment, from our kind of work or from the opportunity to interact with outstanding scientists like yourselves"
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description The Brain Box 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Brain Box (Twitter: #mcrbrainbox) was an exciting science extravaganza taking place in the Town Hall right in the middle of Manchester on Manchester Day. The purpose of the event was to create awareness in the general public about the wonders of the brain: how it works, how it is studied, what can go wrong in our brains, and how this might be fixed. It was a unique opportunity for the general public to interact with scientists, clinicians, creative practitioners and artists at a unique event with exciting and thought-provoking exhibits, displays and hands-on activities for all ages. The audience was very different from the usual museum events, and people often seemed to come in without intention and got taken by surprise and responded with great enthusiasm.
I led one of the stands called "Brain waves", where people of all ages had the opportunity to engage in different interactive games. For example, they could use their brain activity to control the movement of a ball in the air, or to make the hologram of a space ship to levitate, by simply using a small cap fitted to their head. These games sparked millions of questions from the visitors including very small children, which allowed us to engange with them and explain in simple words the origin of brain signals and the basic of cutting edge technologies such as Brain Computer Interfaces, which use the same principles as the games shown. This also allowed us to initiate young minds into the fields of mathematics and physics as key sciences to understand and investigate the brain processes that generate brain signals.

Impacts and outcomes:
All the feedback we received through the various channels was full of praise (http://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/brain-box-event-wows-manchester) and we were unanimously given best marks for the event (https://storify.com/samillingworth/brain-box). It was amazing to learn also that the visitor number of more than 5400 on a single day made the Brain Box one of the largest outreach events in the UK. Furthermore, we can report that the wired brain sculpture (https://mcrbrainbox.wordpress.com/arts/#2) that was built by the visitors during the event, was accepted to go on permanent exhibition in The University of Manchester's AV Hill neuroscience building, as a great piece of legacy reminding of the enormous effort we all put in and illustrating the close collaboration with the public which the Brain Box represented.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://mcrbrainbox.wordpress.com/