Max Kramer models migraine spreading depression

Max Kramer worked with Oberlin Professor Emeritus Richard Salter and Dr. Nancy Darling to develop a computational model of the spreading neurological depression characteristic of the brain during a migraine.

Oberlin student presents at conference
Max Kramer presents a spatial dynamic systems model of migraine spreading depression

Compuational modeling is a way of using mathematical and logical modeling to simulate behavior in the real world. Max used Numerus software, developed at Oberlin College, to specify the model. The model allows researchers to change how prone neurons are to contagion and visualize how each subsequent migraine episode makes it easier for the next one to occur. It can also be used to think about how ‘triggers’ work.

Migraines tend to occur in vulnerable individuals when a conjunction of conditions come together. Like pouring small amounts of water into a glass, no one event will cause the glass to spill over. Add enough of small amounts, though, and you have a mess on your hands. Similarly, with migraines, weather, food, how much you’ve been drinking, and stress each contribute a little bit towards the likelihood that migraine will strike. Enough factors in the same time and the same place and BAM. Migraine.

In 2018, Max presented a Numerus based conceptual model of pain at the Ohio Undergraduate Research Conference.

In 2019, his work had advanced to a much more complex model of spreading depression.

Dynamic systems model of spreading depression in migraine.


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