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Early-Career HSE Researchers to Attend Neuroscience School

Early-Career HSE Researchers to Attend Neuroscience School

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Two of the winners, Konstantin Sorokin, doctoral student and visiting lecturer of the HSE Faculty of Computer Science and research assistant at the HSE International Laboratory of Algebraic Topology and its Applications, and Daria Kleeva, doctoral student of the HSE Faculty of Social Sciences and research assistant at the HSE Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience Centre for Bioelectric Interfaces, spoke to the HSE News Service about why attending the School matters so much for them.

Konstantin Sorokin

'As a researcher focused almost entirely on studying neurobiological structures, I find attending the School really important.

I began my research in neuroscience while still a student of the HSE Faculty of Mathematics. Working at the Laboratory of Algebraic Topology, you learn to apply advanced mathematics to practical problems. Gradually going deeper and deeper into my studies of neuroscience and topological data analysis and machine learning, I started conducting independent research in collaboration with RAS member Professor Konstantin Anokhin’s team and launched my own project and a seminar at the Faculty of Computer Science on using computer methods to study the cognitome.

For this project, our team of students and researchers is working to explore spatial coding by hippocampal place cells. Over the past 18 months, after extensive research leading to some very interesting findings, we have developed new working approaches to analysing neural activity data.

The School features speakers whose work I am particularly interested in, such as those engaged in the topological analysis of neural data. They include, for example, Yuri Dabagyan and Alexander Gorsky, who approaches neurobiological problems from the perspective of graph theory and complex networks. I’m also looking forward to hearing the talk by Nachum Ulanovsky who studies three-dimensional spatial coding by place cells in the brains of bats; his team has constructed a 200-metre-long tunnel as a setup for this study.

As a researcher, I find it essential to keep up-to-date with the work of my senior academic colleagues to stay on top of recent trends and to check the value and validity of my own research. I also give popular science lectures at various venues.

There was a lot of competition to attend this School, but I am sure that the fight for places would be even fiercer if more students were confident enough to apply. I look forward to meeting people at the forefront of this branch of science, sharing my findings and ideas, and learning from others' insights'.

Daria Kleeva

'This will be my second time attending a summer school organised by the IDEAS Centre. Last year, the event focused on the mathematical and physical aspects of data analysis in neuroscience and allowed us not only to go deeper into the theory – which is essential for understanding the hierarchy of brain networks and ways to describe and model their functional dynamics – but also to engage in hands-on practice. Participants were offered a choice of several projects which mainly involved interpreting certain brain activity data.

At the end of the School, each team presented their results, followed by a discussion which proved so productive that it led to new joint projects outside of the School. So, for example, together with colleagues from Skoltech and MSU, we have since been working on a project on reducing the dimensionality of EEG data for analysing the synchronization of cortical sources.

I find it particularly useful to attend such events and to participate in related projects because the topic of my Candidate of Sciences dissertation concerns the development of methods for assessing functional connectivity in the cerebral cortex. This topic requires knowledge of digital signal processing, statistics, and graph theory. It is also a particularly hot topic in neuroscience today, because functional connectivity is a marker of neuronal processes in brain networks.

When I learned that they were planning a second School this year, I immediately applied. Without a doubt, attending it will both contribute to the progress of my dissertation and help broaden my horizons in science'.

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