Themes

Theme 1: Mathematical/Analytical Foundations

A fundamental problem is to detect and assess the significance of complex dynamic patterns in human behaviour, neural networks, and social networks. CREATE members provide training in critical analytical methods and tools for assessing complex dynamics, including stability conditions that generate synchronized oscillations; modeling the impact of local dynamics on global dynamics in complex systems and in social networks; coupling of neuronal rhythms at different timescales; and temporal dynamics of genetic oscillators.

Theme 2: Neuroscience Foundations

Neuronal populations display complex oscillatory activity throughout the human brain, forming a mechanism for synchronizing and transferring information across distant brain areas from which neural networks emerge. Important problems including the development of oscillatory neural networks and its directional connectivity. CREATE mentors address research in circadian and ultradian oscillators that drive communication in human neural networks; hippocampal oscillations underlying memory encoding; and oscillatory brain markers that co-occur with sensory encoding and attentional processes.

Theme 3: Developmental Dynamics

Complex biological systems exhibit key periods of nonlinear change during transitions from infancy to old age. For example, human learning curves and growth curves appear smooth when computed across populations, but show periods of rapid change alternating with periods of stability at the level of individuals. Such discontinuous transitions are typical in the development of a complex system. CREATE mentors address transitions during early human development in speech fluency; emotional development; and motor entrainment to sensory events, as well as transitions over the lifespan in motor flexibility and executive function.

Theme 4: Disrupted Dynamics

Disruptions to complex systems, such as those introduced by jet lag or night shift work, cause critical transitions to new oscillatory states. A prediction from complex dynamics is that transitions to sub-optimal behaviour can arise when environmental perturbations push a system away from its stable state to a new, unstable state, such as in disordered locomotion,  or disruptions in sleep oscillations. CREATE mentors address dynamics underlying sleep disorders and seasonal mood disruptions; and movement disruptions, from gait disorders to auditory entrainment failures.

Theme 5: Group Dynamics

Nonlinear dynamics emerge from interactions among individuals, groups, or populations, called group dynamics. Modern societies rely on the ability to predict group dynamics at both small and large scales: Changes in human energy consumption (food, power), disease contagion, and emotional states can arise among group members. CREATE mentors address group dynamics in conversational speech, diurnal patterns of behavior in animal sensitivity to pain, dynamic attentional shifts based on social cues, and small-and large-scale oscillations in group and network synchronization.