Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Mastering the Nonlinear Brain," by James Glanz. Science, 19 September 1997, pages 1758-1760.

Mathematicians, biophysicists, and neuroscientists are collaborating on ways to treat epileptic seizures that do not respond to drugs. One focus of this work is the development of mathematical models of electrical activity in normal brains and in brains undergoing seizures. The aim is to try to control seizures by applying to the appropriate region of the brain localized electrical impulses. Nonlinear dynamics, which was originally developed as a way of understanding phenomena such as waves cresting and crashing on a beach, provides the mathematical basis for this work. The article describes two different views of the dynamical structure of the brain, which eventually may prove to be two different aspects of the same phenomenon.

--- Allyn Jackson