UdeM’s Workshop, a warm invitation, a great day!

Workshop that took place at Université de Montréal under the CAMBAM banner.

Last week, we have been hosted by our fellows of the Department of Pharmacology of Université de Montreal. This meeting took the form of a friendly workshop during which three students have been invited to present their work and thoughts.

Olivier Barrière, a post-doctoral researcher working on problems related to pharmacokinetics, took the lead by outlining three methods to improve the speed and efficiency of matlab code. Using his laptop as an interactive tool, he described the details of preallocation, vectorization, and parallelization in a Matlab context. Simply put: it’s of paramount importance to employ these techniques while writing code in Matlab, and Barrière’s talk made that perfectly clear.

Then, a member who is frequently involved in CAMBAM events, Nedialko I. Krouchev, presented his ideas about a neural network model. His motivation concerns the role of inhibitory neurons and the modification of their synapses during conditioning. This is of significant importance, when we consider that troubles like epilepsy could find their roots in an inadequate functioning of inhibition in the brain. His model addressed the results presented by Jackson et al. (2006). In their experiment, they implanted an autonomous neural recording and stimulation device that delivered causal stimulation based on recorded activity and observed a strengthening of the connections between the two sites. His model aims at explaining this correlation by relating it to a depression of the inhibitory connection neighboring the stimulation site. Even though our friend only presented preliminary results, he demonstrated the potential of his model and left us all excited to hear about further development.

To conclude the day, a long time involved student of CAMBAM, Lennart Hilbert, presented a workshop on the use of the freely available graphic design software Inkscape. For all those of you, who, just like I use to, are still working with stone age tools such as Microsoft Paint and Powerpoint to prepare your figures for articles, Lennart made the demonstration that Inkscape was better than Tylenols when it comes to kill the pain induced by graphic design tasks. This software is fully compatible with Matlab as the later can generates it’s figures in the .eps format which are handled by Inkscape (* However, a few more steps over the default setup are required for it to be true on Windows). The main advantage of this method is that figures are now handled as a group of objects rather than a map of pixels. What does that mean? It means that problems with resolution, that often shows off when scaling a figure, are past history, as pixels can be recomputed from the list of objects to display, after the scaling. The same applies to text, which was also troublesome to deal with when scaling a figure, since it can now be formatted independently of the figures. I speak for myself, but this presentation definitely changed my life (in regard to graphic design).

I cannot ignore the excellent meal made out of lentils, mashed sweet potatoes and green peas (please excuse my ignorance for not knowing the name of this succulent dish), along with a fine selection of cookies and chocolatine that seduced those who have a sweet teeth.

A big thank you to those who organized this event, Morgan Craig, Lennart Hilbert and Thomas Quail. I am looking forward for the next occasion to share opinion on science, work techniques and tempting recipes with you.

Special thanks to Thomas Quail for his contribution to this post.

Ref:

Jackson A, Mavoori J and Fetz EE (2006) Long-term motor cortex plasticity induced by an electronic neural implant. Nature, Vol. 444, pp.56-60

 

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