‘We Managed to Bring Together Specialists in AI, Pure Mathematics, and Neurobiology’
In early September, the HSE University Faculty of Computer Science hosted the international conference Computer Methods of Cognitome Analysis. The event was organised by the International Laboratory of Algebraic Topology and Its Applications at the faculty.
The cognitome is a representation of the brain as a neuronal hypernetwork structure. The dynamics of this structure reflect the functioning of consciousness. The main focus of the conference was the study and analysis of neural circuit dynamics at the cellular level during spatial navigation and episodic memory tasks, as well as their modelling using high-performance and neuromorphic computing units.
A total of 260 people from ten countries registered for the conference, with half of them taking part remotely. The first day was held fully online, while the second and third took place in a hybrid format.
Konstantin Sorokin, Organiser of the conference
‘Many breakthroughs in science have been made at the intersection of disciplines, and neuroscience is very promising in this respect. Konstantin Anokhin, who proposed the idea of the cognitome, shares this belief. A few years ago, he started to engage mathematicians and theoretical physicists in a discussion of the structure of consciousness. Anokhin’s ideas and support inspired this conference, and he himself gave a presentation at it.
As far as I know, this was the first conference dedicated to the cognitome, as well as one of the first to target mathematicians, physicists and computer science researchers.
One important outcome of the conference was attracting promising new industries to the Faculty of Computer Science. One such industry is neuromorphic technologies, which has uses in neurobiology, can improve the effectiveness of machine learning tasks, and has industrial applications.
We managed to bring together specialists in AI, pure mathematics, and neurobiology on a single platform. This was possible thanks to the Faculty of Computer Science, and I believe that scientists from various fields were able to interact on a new level, including an international one. Some pure mathematicians were fascinated by the use and development of hypernetwork theory in neurobiology, having not known much about such research previously.
I was delighted at the attention paid to our studies by young people and the active party around our subject after the conference. We continue to stay in touch, discuss science news, and share interesting events.’
Roman Karpenok, 2nd-year doctoral student of the MSU Department of the Physiology of Higher Nervous Activity
‘The conference, atmosphere, and organisation were wonderful. It was perfectly suited to research teams and individual scientists alike, and the atmosphere lent itself to professional communication.
It struck a balance between interdisciplinarity and professionalism. During the breaks, everyone habitually and perfectly organised themselves into discussion groups on the topics of research.
The most useful thing for me was learning more about formal concepts and neuromorphic technologies, simply because accurate and fast methods are needed. However, I got the impression that the other presentations aroused just as much interest in the audience.
This subject area is very much unresolved and requires intellect, effort, and more conferences like this one.’
Alexandra Bernadotte, NeuroSputnik
‘I had the honour of giving a big presentation at this event, which was organised by my friend and colleague Konstantin Sorokin. Subjectively, it was the best conference of my life. The conversations were very lively, intelligent, and healthy. When I asked Kostya how he managed to achieve this, he answered “I chose those kinds of participants”. I think that is an interesting approach. When we get together, we want to not only give formal presentations, but to talk with like-minded people and discuss topics that are difficult to find people to talk to about.’
A playlist of the conference presentations is available here.
HSE University has announced the winners of the Project Competition in Basic Science Research for Intercampus Departments. The competition, which the university is organising for the first time, will provide funding to 10 research teams working on five topics. Four of the winning projects will be implemented by new research departments formed as a result of the competition.
An international group of scientists and medical specialists, including HSE researchers, examined the role played by microRNA (miRNA) and long non-coding RNAs on the progression of ovarian cancer. Having analysed more than a hundred tumour samples, they found that miRNA can prevent cell mutation while long non-coding RNAs have the opposite effect of enabling such mutations. These findings can help design new drugs which act by regulating miRNA concentrations. The study was published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.
Researchers of the HSE University and the Southern Federal University (SFedU) have tested a new method for studying the perception of facial emotional expressions. They suggest that asking subjects to recognise emotional expressions from dynamic video clips rather than static photographs can improve the accuracy of findings, eg in psychiatric and neurological studies. The paper is published in Applied Sciences.
Academics’ work week became even longer during the pandemic. This is true of researchers from different countries, independently of their gender and specialisation, an international research team with HSE University participation found. Their working time during the pandemic was 51 hours compared to the usual 40. The increased number of working hours per week seems to have become part of the new academic norm. The results of the study were published in the Plos One journal.
Researchers of the HSE International Laboratory of Statistical and Computational Genomics together with their international colleagues have proposed a new statistical method for analysing population admixture that makes it possible to determine the time and number of migration waves more accurately. The history of Colombians and Mexicans (descendants of Native Americans, Spaniards and Africans) features two episodes of admixture that occurred about 350 and 200 years ago for Mexicans and 400 and 100 years ago for Colombians. The results were published in the Plos Genetics journal.
Scholars from Moscow and Vladivostok Join Efforts to Study Institutes and Preferences in Economic Behaviour
Applications from HSE departments for the ‘Mirror Laboratories’ open project competition are open until May 20. One of the ‘mirror laboratories’ successfully operating today was created as a result of a similar competition in 2020 by economists from HSE University and Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) to study institutes and preferences in economic behaviour. Alexis Belianin, Head of the HSE International Laboratory for Experimental and Behavioural Economics, talked about how peers from Moscow and Vladivostok collaborate.
Psychologists from HSE University have joined their peers from Ekaterinburg to look into the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of Russian doctors. They found that medical staff are suffering from stress, anxiety, and depression more often than before. The results of the study were published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
The laboratory will be led by Robert Sandlersky, a specialist in energy and mass transfer and the study of other properties of landscapes via satellite imagery and Senior Research Fellow at the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The HSE News Service spoke to Robert about the laboratory’s future activities.
HSE University has launched a new International Laboratory for the Study and Assessment of Dangerous Geophysical Phenomena. Alexander Kostinskiy, Head of the Laboratory and Deputy Director of HSE MIEM, explains the laboratory’s future work, its important research and practical applications, and the role of international cooperation in the new laboratory.
The Centre for Quantum Metamaterials is one of the new international laboratories that will be launched at MIEM, HSE University, in 2022. Alexei Vagov, Head of the Centre, speaks about the main areas of the Centre’s research, its team, and future research cooperation.