Information processing in the neural and gene regulatory networks

Aïsha Mientjes


Seminar 4:

Speaker:  Gasper Tkacik             

Department: Bionanoscience

Subject: Information processing in the neural and gene regulatory networks

Location: TU Delft          

Date: 22-03       

Dr. Tkacik dived up his lecture in several parts. The first part dealt with history. He explained a little bit about Shannon’s information theory. Shannon stated that in communication there are three parts: the source, the channel and the receiver. Dr. Tkacik then explained  a little bit about the mutual information theory: the measure for the ability to send and recover signals through a noisy channel. Shannon’s theory provides a framework for understanding biological processing.

Part two dealt with the retina as a coding device: going beyond single neurons to neural populations. Dr. Tkacik showed us a movie of fish in which he could show the response of neurons. The brain receives a binary signal, but there are still many questions relating to these signals. Dr. Tkacik concerns himself with whether the pattern can be converted back into the initial movie. He can actually do this, and there is a pretty good correspondence.

Part 3 of the lecture was about positional information. In many cellular processes, cellular specification is q=guided by positional information. In this lecture, some questions were asked about this:

  • How much is needed?
  • Are some patterns better than others?
  • How much information do patterns give?
  • How do you read the positional code?seminar 4This image shows the French flag model, an important model in positional information.

Information theory can be used to quantify many biological processes, such as positional information.

The final part of the lecture dealt with perspectives for the future.

  1. New data allows us to observe networks in action.
  2. Quantitative measurements can be done for networks.
  3. Quantifying can help with efficient coding.
  4. Computation will play a big role.
  5. Evolutionary dynamics can be studied.

This concluded the lecture.

This was the second seminar I attended at the TU Delft. I found this topic slightly easier to follow than the last TU Delft seminar. This was mainly because I has some knowledge on this topic from evolutionary developmental biology. I found it very interesting to see that many biological processes can be quantified, which will make studying them a lot easier. I found this seminar very interesting and the lecturer was very passionate and could tell us a lot.

All in all, I found it a very interesting and educational seminar.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s