Disputation: Marte Julie Sætra

Doctoral candidate Marte Julie Sætra at the Department of Physics, Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, is defending the thesis "Computational modeling of ion concentration dynamics and metabolic oxygen consumption in brain tissue" for the degree of Philosophiae Doctor.

portrait of the candidate

The PhD defence and trial lecture are fully digital and streamed using Zoom.  The chair of the defence will moderate the disputation.

Ex auditorio questions: the chair of the defence will invite the audience to ask ex auditorio questions either written or oral. This can be requested by clicking 'Participants' and then choose 'Raise hand'. 

Trial lecture

“The legacy of Hodgkin and Huxley: The role of biophysical models in neuroscience”


Main research findings

An increasing number of brain scientists resort to computers and mathematics as tools to unravel the brain. Instead of studying hands-on experiments alone, computational neuroscientists make use of mathematical models to explore and test their hypotheses.

A major application of the computational approach is to study the electrical signals of nerve cells. The signals stem from the movement of charged particles, which we call ions, and depends on having an ion concentration difference across the cell membranes. In real nerve cells, ion concentration differences are maintained by a variety of different mechanisms. In models, most computational neuroscientists simply assume that the supporting mechanisms do their job and, therefore, set ion concentrations to be constant. The models are useful for many applications, but they fail to describe the scenarios in which the supporting mechanisms fail and ion concentrations change.

In this thesis, Marte Julie Sætra joins forces with the nerve cells’ support crew. She presents two cell models that explicitly include supporting mechanisms and account for ion concentration dynamics. She also presents a method for estimating oxygen consumption in brain tissue. Such a measure can help us understand the coupling between nerve cell activity, their need for oxygen, and blood flow


Contact information to Department: Line Trosterud Resvold

Published Nov. 6, 2020 9:56 AM - Last modified Nov. 23, 2020 9:44 AM