Year/Course: 2007-2008, Lent 2008

Contact: Professor Ed Bullmore & Maher Khaled, Cambridge Neuroscience
Mentors: Dr. Aled Jones, Development Director for Climate Change & Energy Programs, Cambridge University

Professor Bullmore and his team focus on the imaging of cognitive functions in the brain, using techniques such as MRI. In studying the results of this imaging they discovered the unexpected result that at low frequencies, brain activity representing interconnection between different areas of the brain has the same topology at all frequencies up to 30Hz. In order to understand the significance of this result, and to see whether or not it might apply to other complex systems, the team developed a mathematical model using the techniques of time series analysis and wavelets.

The model has been successfully used to assess the long-range properties of both neurological data and of the trading volumes of stocks in the financial markets, and Professor Bullmore is now interested in investigating other uses for this novel methodology. It is expected that the technique will apply to any system which exhibits long-term behaviour trends as well as short-term variation. This could include areas as diverse as climate data, oceanographic behaviour, seismic data, the spread of diseases, or even the use of different forms of transport.

The i-Team’s role will be to work with Professor Bullmore to identify appropriate applications for the model, and to investigate whether or not the model would enhance the techniques currently used in those areas. It is expected that the most generally-applicable part of the research is the Estimator, which allows the parameters describing the long-term behaviour to be estimated simply from limited amounts of data.