PLoS Computational Biology

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Differences in Visual-Spatial Input May Underlie Different Compression Properties of Firing Fields for Grid Cell Modules in Medial Entorhinal Cortex

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 17:00

by Florian Raudies, Michael E. Hasselmo

Firing fields of grid cells in medial entorhinal cortex show compression or expansion after manipulations of the location of environmental barriers. This compression or expansion could be selective for individual grid cell modules with particular properties of spatial scaling. We present a model for differences in the response of modules to barrier location that arise from different mechanisms for the influence of visual features on the computation of location that drives grid cell firing patterns. These differences could arise from differences in the position of visual features within the visual field. When location was computed from the movement of visual features on the ground plane (optic flow) in the ventral visual field, this resulted in grid cell spatial firing that was not sensitive to barrier location in modules modeled with small spacing between grid cell firing fields. In contrast, when location was computed from static visual features on walls of barriers, i.e. in the more dorsal visual field, this resulted in grid cell spatial firing that compressed or expanded based on the barrier locations in modules modeled with large spacing between grid cell firing fields. This indicates that different grid cell modules might have differential properties for computing location based on visual cues, or the spatial radius of sensitivity to visual cues might differ between modules.
Categories: Journal Articles

SAAS-CNV: A Joint Segmentation Approach on Aggregated and Allele Specific Signals for the Identification of Somatic Copy Number Alterations with Next-Generation Sequencing Data

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 17:00

by Zhongyang Zhang, Ke Hao

Cancer genomes exhibit profound somatic copy number alterations (SCNAs). Studying tumor SCNAs using massively parallel sequencing provides unprecedented resolution and meanwhile gives rise to new challenges in data analysis, complicated by tumor aneuploidy and heterogeneity as well as normal cell contamination. While the majority of read depth based methods utilize total sequencing depth alone for SCNA inference, the allele specific signals are undervalued. We proposed a joint segmentation and inference approach using both signals to meet some of the challenges. Our method consists of four major steps: 1) extracting read depth supporting reference and alternative alleles at each SNP/Indel locus and comparing the total read depth and alternative allele proportion between tumor and matched normal sample; 2) performing joint segmentation on the two signal dimensions; 3) correcting the copy number baseline from which the SCNA state is determined; 4) calling SCNA state for each segment based on both signal dimensions. The method is applicable to whole exome/genome sequencing (WES/WGS) as well as SNP array data in a tumor-control study. We applied the method to a dataset containing no SCNAs to test the specificity, created by pairing sequencing replicates of a single HapMap sample as normal/tumor pairs, as well as a large-scale WGS dataset consisting of 88 liver tumors along with adjacent normal tissues. Compared with representative methods, our method demonstrated improved accuracy, scalability to large cancer studies, capability in handling both sequencing and SNP array data, and the potential to improve the estimation of tumor ploidy and purity.
Categories: Journal Articles

Untangling Brain-Wide Dynamics in Consciousness by Cross-Embedding

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 17:00

by Satohiro Tajima, Toru Yanagawa, Naotaka Fujii, Taro Toyoizumi

Brain-wide interactions generating complex neural dynamics are considered crucial for emergent cognitive functions. However, the irreducible nature of nonlinear and high-dimensional dynamical interactions challenges conventional reductionist approaches. We introduce a model-free method, based on embedding theorems in nonlinear state-space reconstruction, that permits a simultaneous characterization of complexity in local dynamics, directed interactions between brain areas, and how the complexity is produced by the interactions. We demonstrate this method in large-scale electrophysiological recordings from awake and anesthetized monkeys. The cross-embedding method captures structured interaction underlying cortex-wide dynamics that may be missed by conventional correlation-based analysis, demonstrating a critical role of time-series analysis in characterizing brain state. The method reveals a consciousness-related hierarchy of cortical areas, where dynamical complexity increases along with cross-area information flow. These findings demonstrate the advantages of the cross-embedding method in deciphering large-scale and heterogeneous neuronal systems, suggesting a crucial contribution by sensory-frontoparietal interactions to the emergence of complex brain dynamics during consciousness.
Categories: Journal Articles

“Broadband” Bioinformatics Skills Transfer with the Knowledge Transfer Programme (KTP): Educational Model for Upliftment and Sustainable Development

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 17:00

by Emile R. Chimusa, Mamana Mbiyavanga, Velaphi Masilela, Judit Kumuthini

A shortage of practical skills and relevant expertise is possibly the primary obstacle to social upliftment and sustainable development in Africa. The “omics” fields, especially genomics, are increasingly dependent on the effective interpretation of large and complex sets of data. Despite abundant natural resources and population sizes comparable with many first-world countries from which talent could be drawn, countries in Africa still lag far behind the rest of the world in terms of specialized skills development. Moreover, there are serious concerns about disparities between countries within the continent. The multidisciplinary nature of the bioinformatics field, coupled with rare and depleting expertise, is a critical problem for the advancement of bioinformatics in Africa. We propose a formalized matchmaking system, which is aimed at reversing this trend, by introducing the Knowledge Transfer Programme (KTP). Instead of individual researchers travelling to other labs to learn, researchers with desirable skills are invited to join African research groups for six weeks to six months. Visiting researchers or trainers will pass on their expertise to multiple people simultaneously in their local environments, thus increasing the efficiency of knowledge transference. In return, visiting researchers have the opportunity to develop professional contacts, gain industry work experience, work with novel datasets, and strengthen and support their ongoing research. The KTP develops a network with a centralized hub through which groups and individuals are put into contact with one another and exchanges are facilitated by connecting both parties with potential funding sources. This is part of the PLOS Computational Biology Education collection.
Categories: Journal Articles

A Bio-inspired Collision Avoidance Model Based on Spatial Information Derived from Motion Detectors Leads to Common Routes

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 17:00

by Olivier J. N. Bertrand, Jens P. Lindemann, Martin Egelhaaf

Avoiding collisions is one of the most basic needs of any mobile agent, both biological and technical, when searching around or aiming toward a goal. We propose a model of collision avoidance inspired by behavioral experiments on insects and by properties of optic flow on a spherical eye experienced during translation, and test the interaction of this model with goal-driven behavior. Insects, such as flies and bees, actively separate the rotational and translational optic flow components via behavior, i.e. by employing a saccadic strategy of flight and gaze control. Optic flow experienced during translation, i.e. during intersaccadic phases, contains information on the depth-structure of the environment, but this information is entangled with that on self-motion. Here, we propose a simple model to extract the depth structure from translational optic flow by using local properties of a spherical eye. On this basis, a motion direction of the agent is computed that ensures collision avoidance. Flying insects are thought to measure optic flow by correlation-type elementary motion detectors. Their responses depend, in addition to velocity, on the texture and contrast of objects and, thus, do not measure the velocity of objects veridically. Therefore, we initially used geometrically determined optic flow as input to a collision avoidance algorithm to show that depth information inferred from optic flow is sufficient to account for collision avoidance under closed-loop conditions. Then, the collision avoidance algorithm was tested with bio-inspired correlation-type elementary motion detectors in its input. Even then, the algorithm led successfully to collision avoidance and, in addition, replicated the characteristics of collision avoidance behavior of insects. Finally, the collision avoidance algorithm was combined with a goal direction and tested in cluttered environments. The simulated agent then showed goal-directed behavior reminiscent of components of the navigation behavior of insects.
Categories: Journal Articles

Random Wiring, Ganglion Cell Mosaics, and the Functional Architecture of the Visual Cortex

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 17:00

by Manuel Schottdorf, Wolfgang Keil, David Coppola, Leonard E. White, Fred Wolf

The architecture of iso-orientation domains in the primary visual cortex (V1) of placental carnivores and primates apparently follows species invariant quantitative laws. Dynamical optimization models assuming that neurons coordinate their stimulus preferences throughout cortical circuits linking millions of cells specifically predict these invariants. This might indicate that V1’s intrinsic connectome and its functional architecture adhere to a single optimization principle with high precision and robustness. To validate this hypothesis, it is critical to closely examine the quantitative predictions of alternative candidate theories. Random feedforward wiring within the retino-cortical pathway represents a conceptually appealing alternative to dynamical circuit optimization because random dimension-expanding projections are believed to generically exhibit computationally favorable properties for stimulus representations. Here, we ask whether the quantitative invariants of V1 architecture can be explained as a generic emergent property of random wiring. We generalize and examine the stochastic wiring model proposed by Ringach and coworkers, in which iso-orientation domains in the visual cortex arise through random feedforward connections between semi-regular mosaics of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) and visual cortical neurons. We derive closed-form expressions for cortical receptive fields and domain layouts predicted by the model for perfectly hexagonal RGC mosaics. Including spatial disorder in the RGC positions considerably changes the domain layout properties as a function of disorder parameters such as position scatter and its correlations across the retina. However, independent of parameter choice, we find that the model predictions substantially deviate from the layout laws of iso-orientation domains observed experimentally. Considering random wiring with the currently most realistic model of RGC mosaic layouts, a pairwise interacting point process, the predicted layouts remain distinct from experimental observations and resemble Gaussian random fields. We conclude that V1 layout invariants are specific quantitative signatures of visual cortical optimization, which cannot be explained by generic random feedforward-wiring models.
Categories: Journal Articles

Beyond the E-Value: Stratified Statistics for Protein Domain Prediction

Tue, 11/17/2015 - 17:00

by Alejandro Ochoa, John D. Storey, Manuel Llinás, Mona Singh

E-values have been the dominant statistic for protein sequence analysis for the past two decades: from identifying statistically significant local sequence alignments to evaluating matches to hidden Markov models describing protein domain families. Here we formally show that for “stratified” multiple hypothesis testing problems—that is, those in which statistical tests can be partitioned naturally—controlling the local False Discovery Rate (lFDR) per stratum, or partition, yields the most predictions across the data at any given threshold on the FDR or E-value over all strata combined. For the important problem of protein domain prediction, a key step in characterizing protein structure, function and evolution, we show that stratifying statistical tests by domain family yields excellent results. We develop the first FDR-estimating algorithms for domain prediction, and evaluate how well thresholds based on q-values, E-values and lFDRs perform in domain prediction using five complementary approaches for estimating empirical FDRs in this context. We show that stratified q-value thresholds substantially outperform E-values. Contradicting our theoretical results, q-values also outperform lFDRs; however, our tests reveal a small but coherent subset of domain families, biased towards models for specific repetitive patterns, for which weaknesses in random sequence models yield notably inaccurate statistical significance measures. Usage of lFDR thresholds outperform q-values for the remaining families, which have as-expected noise, suggesting that further improvements in domain predictions can be achieved with improved modeling of random sequences. Overall, our theoretical and empirical findings suggest that the use of stratified q-values and lFDRs could result in improvements in a host of structured multiple hypothesis testing problems arising in bioinformatics, including genome-wide association studies, orthology prediction, and motif scanning.
Categories: Journal Articles

Inferring the Clonal Structure of Viral Populations from Time Series Sequencing

Mon, 11/16/2015 - 17:00

by Donatien F. Chedom, Pablo R. Murcia, Chris D. Greenman

RNA virus populations will undergo processes of mutation and selection resulting in a mixed population of viral particles. High throughput sequencing of a viral population subsequently contains a mixed signal of the underlying clones. We would like to identify the underlying evolutionary structures. We utilize two sources of information to attempt this; within segment linkage information, and mutation prevalence. We demonstrate that clone haplotypes, their prevalence, and maximum parsimony reticulate evolutionary structures can be identified, although the solutions may not be unique, even for complete sets of information. This is applied to a chain of influenza infection, where we infer evolutionary structures, including reassortment, and demonstrate some of the difficulties of interpretation that arise from deep sequencing due to artifacts such as template switching during PCR amplification.
Categories: Journal Articles

Improving Collective Estimations Using Resistance to Social Influence

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 17:00

by Gabriel Madirolas, Gonzalo G. de Polavieja

Groups can make precise collective estimations in cases like the weight of an object or the number of items in a volume. However, in others tasks, for example those requiring memory or mental calculation, subjects often give estimations with large deviations from factual values. Allowing members of the group to communicate their estimations has the additional perverse effect of shifting individual estimations even closer to the biased collective estimation. Here we show that this negative effect of social interactions can be turned into a method to improve collective estimations. We first obtained a statistical model of how humans change their estimation when receiving the estimates made by other individuals. We confirmed using existing experimental data its prediction that individuals use the weighted geometric mean of private and social estimations. We then used this result and the fact that each individual uses a different value of the social weight to devise a method that extracts the subgroups resisting social influence. We found that these subgroups of individuals resisting social influence can make very large improvements in group estimations. This is in contrast to methods using the confidence that each individual declares, for which we find no improvement in group estimations. Also, our proposed method does not need to use historical data to weight individuals by performance. These results show the benefits of using the individual characteristics of the members in a group to better extract collective wisdom.
Categories: Journal Articles

Comparative Analysis of Yeast Metabolic Network Models Highlights Progress, Opportunities for Metabolic Reconstruction

Fri, 11/13/2015 - 17:00

by Benjamin D. Heavner, Nathan D. Price

We have compared 12 genome-scale models of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae metabolic network published since 2003 to evaluate progress in reconstruction of the yeast metabolic network. We compared the genomic coverage, overlap of annotated metabolites, predictive ability for single gene essentiality with a selection of model parameters, and biomass production predictions in simulated nutrient-limited conditions. We have also compared pairwise gene knockout essentiality predictions for 10 of these models. We found that varying approaches to model scope and annotation reflected the involvement of multiple research groups in model development; that single-gene essentiality predictions were affected by simulated medium, objective function, and the reference list of essential genes; and that predictive ability for single-gene essentiality did not correlate well with predictive ability for our reference list of synthetic lethal gene interactions (R = 0.159). We conclude that the reconstruction of the yeast metabolic network is indeed gradually improving through the iterative process of model development, and there remains great opportunity for advancing our understanding of biology through continued efforts to reconstruct the full biochemical reaction network that constitutes yeast metabolism. Additionally, we suggest that there is opportunity for refining the process of deriving a metabolic model from a metabolic network reconstruction to facilitate mechanistic investigation and discovery. This comparative study lays the groundwork for developing improved tools and formalized methods to quantitatively assess metabolic network reconstructions independently of any particular model application, which will facilitate ongoing efforts to advance our understanding of the relationship between genotype and cellular phenotype.
Categories: Journal Articles

Emergence of Shared Intentionality Is Coupled to the Advance of Cumulative Culture

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 16:00

by Simon D. Angus, Jonathan Newton

There is evidence that the sharing of intentions was an important factor in the evolution of humans’ unique cognitive abilities. Here, for the first time, we formally model the coevolution of jointly intentional behavior and cumulative culture, showing that rapid techno-cultural advance goes hand in hand with the emergence of the ability to participate in jointly intentional behavior. Conversely, in the absence of opportunities for significant techno-cultural improvement, the ability to undertake jointly intentional behavior is selected against. Thus, we provide a unified mechanism for the suppression or emergence of shared intentions and collaborative behavior in humans, as well as a potential cause of inter-species diversity in the prevalence of such behavior.
Categories: Journal Articles

Deconstructing Interocular Suppression: Attention and Divisive Normalization

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 16:00

by Hsin-Hung Li, Marisa Carrasco, David J. Heeger

In interocular suppression, a suprathreshold monocular target can be rendered invisible by a salient competitor stimulus presented in the other eye. Despite decades of research on interocular suppression and related phenomena (e.g., binocular rivalry, flash suppression, continuous flash suppression), the neural processing underlying interocular suppression is still unknown. We developed and tested a computational model of interocular suppression. The model included two processes that contributed to the strength of interocular suppression: divisive normalization and attentional modulation. According to the model, the salient competitor induced a stimulus-driven attentional modulation selective for the location and orientation of the competitor, thereby increasing the gain of neural responses to the competitor and reducing the gain of neural responses to the target. Additional suppression was induced by divisive normalization in the model, similar to other forms of visual masking. To test the model, we conducted psychophysics experiments in which both the size and the eye-of-origin of the competitor were manipulated. For small and medium competitors, behavioral performance was consonant with a change in the response gain of neurons that responded to the target. But large competitors induced a contrast-gain change, even when the competitor was split between the two eyes. The model correctly predicted these results and outperformed an alternative model in which the attentional modulation was eye specific. We conclude that both stimulus-driven attention (selective for location and feature) and divisive normalization contribute to interocular suppression.
Categories: Journal Articles

Doubly Bayesian Analysis of Confidence in Perceptual Decision-Making

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 16:00

by Laurence Aitchison, Dan Bang, Bahador Bahrami, Peter E. Latham

Humans stand out from other animals in that they are able to explicitly report on the reliability of their internal operations. This ability, which is known as metacognition, is typically studied by asking people to report their confidence in the correctness of some decision. However, the computations underlying confidence reports remain unclear. In this paper, we present a fully Bayesian method for directly comparing models of confidence. Using a visual two-interval forced-choice task, we tested whether confidence reports reflect heuristic computations (e.g. the magnitude of sensory data) or Bayes optimal ones (i.e. how likely a decision is to be correct given the sensory data). In a standard design in which subjects were first asked to make a decision, and only then gave their confidence, subjects were mostly Bayes optimal. In contrast, in a less-commonly used design in which subjects indicated their confidence and decision simultaneously, they were roughly equally likely to use the Bayes optimal strategy or to use a heuristic but suboptimal strategy. Our results suggest that, while people’s confidence reports can reflect Bayes optimal computations, even a small unusual twist or additional element of complexity can prevent optimality.
Categories: Journal Articles

Membrane Mechanics of Endocytosis in Cells with Turgor

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 16:00

by Serge Dmitrieff, François Nédélec

Endocytosis is an essential process by which cells internalize a piece of plasma membrane and material from the outside. In cells with turgor, pressure opposes membrane deformations, and increases the amount of force that has to be generated by the endocytic machinery. To determine this force, and calculate the shape of the membrane, we used physical theory to model an elastic surface under pressure. Accurate fits of experimental profiles are obtained assuming that the coated membrane is highly rigid and preferentially curved at the endocytic site. The forces required from the actin machinery peaks at the onset of deformation, indicating that once invagination has been initiated, endocytosis is unlikely to stall before completion. Coat proteins do not lower the initiation force but may affect the process by the curvature they induce. In the presence of isotropic curvature inducers, pulling the tip of the invagination can trigger the formation of a neck at the base of the invagination. Hence direct neck constriction by actin may not be required, while its pulling role is essential. Finally, the theory shows that anisotropic curvature effectors stabilize membrane invaginations, and the loss of crescent-shaped BAR domain proteins such as Rvs167 could therefore trigger membrane scission.
Categories: Journal Articles

Oxygen-Driven Tumour Growth Model: A Pathology-Relevant Mathematical Approach

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 16:00

by Juan A. Delgado-SanMartin, Jennifer I. Hare, Alessandro P. S. de Moura, James W. T. Yates

Xenografts -as simplified animal models of cancer- differ substantially in vasculature and stromal architecture when compared to clinical tumours. This makes mathematical model-based predictions of clinical outcome challenging. Our objective is to further understand differences in tumour progression and physiology between animal models and the clinic. To achieve that, we propose a mathematical model based upon tumour pathophysiology, where oxygen -as a surrogate for endocrine delivery- is our main focus. The Oxygen-Driven Model (ODM), using oxygen diffusion equations, describes tumour growth, hypoxia and necrosis. The ODM describes two key physiological parameters. Apparent oxygen uptake rate (kR′) represents the amount of oxygen cells seem to need to proliferate. The more oxygen they appear to need, the more the oxygen transport. kR′ gathers variability from the vasculature, stroma and tumour morphology. Proliferating rate (kp) deals with cell line specific factors to promote growth. The KH,KN describe the switch of hypoxia and necrosis. Retrospectively, using archived data, we looked at longitudinal tumour volume datasets for 38 xenografted cell lines and 5 patient-derived xenograft-like models. Exploration of the parameter space allows us to distinguish 2 groups of parameters. Group 1 of cell lines shows a spread in values of kR′ and lower kp, indicating that tumours are poorly perfused and slow growing. Group 2 share the value of the oxygen uptake rate (kR′) and vary greatly in kp, which we interpret as having similar oxygen transport, but more tumour intrinsic variability in growth. However, the ODM has some limitations when tested in explant-like animal models, whose complex tumour-stromal morphology may not be captured in the current version of the model. Incorporation of stroma in the ODM will help explain these discrepancies. We have provided an example. The ODM is a very simple -and versatile- model suitable for the design of preclinical experiments, which can be modified and enhanced whilst maintaining confidence in its predictions.
Categories: Journal Articles

Temporal Gillespie Algorithm: Fast Simulation of Contagion Processes on Time-Varying Networks

Fri, 10/30/2015 - 16:00

by Christian L. Vestergaard, Mathieu Génois

Stochastic simulations are one of the cornerstones of the analysis of dynamical processes on complex networks, and are often the only accessible way to explore their behavior. The development of fast algorithms is paramount to allow large-scale simulations. The Gillespie algorithm can be used for fast simulation of stochastic processes, and variants of it have been applied to simulate dynamical processes on static networks. However, its adaptation to temporal networks remains non-trivial. We here present a temporal Gillespie algorithm that solves this problem. Our method is applicable to general Poisson (constant-rate) processes on temporal networks, stochastically exact, and up to multiple orders of magnitude faster than traditional simulation schemes based on rejection sampling. We also show how it can be extended to simulate non-Markovian processes. The algorithm is easily applicable in practice, and as an illustration we detail how to simulate both Poissonian and non-Markovian models of epidemic spreading. Namely, we provide pseudocode and its implementation in C++ for simulating the paradigmatic Susceptible-Infected-Susceptible and Susceptible-Infected-Recovered models and a Susceptible-Infected-Recovered model with non-constant recovery rates. For empirical networks, the temporal Gillespie algorithm is here typically from 10 to 100 times faster than rejection sampling.
Categories: Journal Articles

The Trigger Factor Chaperone Encapsulates and Stabilizes Partial Folds of Substrate Proteins

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 16:00

by Kushagra Singhal, Jocelyne Vreede, Alireza Mashaghi, Sander J. Tans, Peter G. Bolhuis

How chaperones interact with protein chains to assist in their folding is a central open question in biology. Obtaining atomistic insight is challenging in particular, given the transient nature of the chaperone-substrate complexes and the large system sizes. Recent single-molecule experiments have shown that the chaperone Trigger Factor (TF) not only binds unfolded protein chains, but can also guide protein chains to their native state by interacting with partially folded structures. Here, we used all-atom MD simulations to provide atomistic insights into how Trigger Factor achieves this chaperone function. Our results indicate a crucial role for the tips of the finger-like appendages of TF in the early interactions with both unfolded chains and partially folded structures. Unfolded chains are kinetically trapped when bound to TF, which suppresses the formation of transient, non-native end-to-end contacts. Mechanical flexibility allows TF to hold partially folded structures with two tips (in a pinching configuration), and to stabilize them by wrapping around its appendages. This encapsulation mechanism is distinct from that of chaperones such as GroEL, and allows folded structures of diverse size and composition to be protected from aggregation and misfolding interactions. The results suggest that an ATP cycle is not required to enable both encapsulation and liberation.
Categories: Journal Articles

Extracting Diffusive States of Rho GTPase in Live Cells: Towards In Vivo Biochemistry

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 16:00

by Peter K. Koo, Matthew Weitzman, Chandran R. Sabanaygam, Kenneth L. van Golen, Simon G. J. Mochrie

Resolving distinct biochemical interaction states when analyzing the trajectories of diffusing proteins in live cells on an individual basis remains challenging because of the limited statistics provided by the relatively short trajectories available experimentally. Here, we introduce a novel, machine-learning based classification methodology, which we call perturbation expectation-maximization (pEM), that simultaneously analyzes a population of protein trajectories to uncover the system of diffusive behaviors which collectively result from distinct biochemical interactions. We validate the performance of pEM in silico and demonstrate that pEM is capable of uncovering the proper number of underlying diffusive states with an accurate characterization of their diffusion properties. We then apply pEM to experimental protein trajectories of Rho GTPases, an integral regulator of cytoskeletal dynamics and cellular homeostasis, in vivo via single particle tracking photo-activated localization microcopy. Remarkably, pEM uncovers 6 distinct diffusive states conserved across various Rho GTPase family members. The variability across family members in the propensities for each diffusive state reveals non-redundant roles in the activation states of RhoA and RhoC. In a resting cell, our results support a model where RhoA is constantly cycling between activation states, with an imbalance of rates favoring an inactive state. RhoC, on the other hand, remains predominantly inactive.
Categories: Journal Articles

Dendritic Pooling of Noisy Threshold Processes Can Explain Many Properties of a Collision-Sensitive Visual Neuron

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 16:00

by Matthias S. Keil

Power laws describe brain functions at many levels (from biophysics to psychophysics). It is therefore possible that they are generated by similar underlying mechanisms. Previously, the response properties of a collision-sensitive neuron were reproduced by a model which used a power law for scaling its inhibitory input. A common characteristic of such neurons is that they integrate information across a large part of the visual field. Here we present a biophysically plausible model of collision-sensitive neurons with η-like response properties, in which we assume that each information channel is noisy and has a response threshold. Then, an approximative power law is obtained as a result of pooling these channels. We show that with this mechanism one can successfully predict many response characteristics of the Lobula Giant Movement Detector Neuron (LGMD). Moreover, the results depend critically on noise in the inhibitory pathway, but they are fairly robust against noise in the excitatory pathway.
Categories: Journal Articles

Combining Search, Social Media, and Traditional Data Sources to Improve Influenza Surveillance

Thu, 10/29/2015 - 16:00

by Mauricio Santillana, André T. Nguyen, Mark Dredze, Michael J. Paul, Elaine O. Nsoesie, John S. Brownstein

We present a machine learning-based methodology capable of providing real-time (“nowcast”) and forecast estimates of influenza activity in the US by leveraging data from multiple data sources including: Google searches, Twitter microblogs, nearly real-time hospital visit records, and data from a participatory surveillance system. Our main contribution consists of combining multiple influenza-like illnesses (ILI) activity estimates, generated independently with each data source, into a single prediction of ILI utilizing machine learning ensemble approaches. Our methodology exploits the information in each data source and produces accurate weekly ILI predictions for up to four weeks ahead of the release of CDC’s ILI reports. We evaluate the predictive ability of our ensemble approach during the 2013–2014 (retrospective) and 2014–2015 (live) flu seasons for each of the four weekly time horizons. Our ensemble approach demonstrates several advantages: (1) our ensemble method’s predictions outperform every prediction using each data source independently, (2) our methodology can produce predictions one week ahead of GFT’s real-time estimates with comparable accuracy, and (3) our two and three week forecast estimates have comparable accuracy to real-time predictions using an autoregressive model. Moreover, our results show that considerable insight is gained from incorporating disparate data streams, in the form of social media and crowd sourced data, into influenza predictions in all time horizons.
Categories: Journal Articles