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Dan Forger : From a model network of 10,000 neurons to a smartphone app with >150,000 users: novel approaches to study daily timekeeping

I will briefly describe mathematical models of networks of neurons and chemical reactions within neurons that generate daily (circadian) timekeeping. The numerical and analytical challenges of these models as well as the benefits in terms of biological predications will be highlighted. I will then explain how models can be used to find schedules that decrease the time needed to adjust to a new timezone by a factor of 2 or more. These optimal schedules have been implemented into a smartphone app, ENTRAIN, which collects data from users and in return helps them avoid jet-lag. We will use the data from this app to determine how the world sleeps. This presents a new paradigm in mathematical biology research where large-scale computing bridges the gap between basic mechanisms and human behavior and yields hypotheses that can be rapidly tested using mobile technology.

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