Ghost in the Shell: Brain Network Organization,
Development, and Dynamics in Health and Disease
Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, UK
April 20, 2010, 11:00 AM
The human brain consists of connections between neurons at the local level and of connections between brain regions at the global level. The study of the entire network, the connectome, has become a recent focus in neuroscience research. Using routines from physics and the social sciences, neuronal networks were found to show properties of scale-free networks, making them robust towards random damage, and of small-world systems leading to better information integration. Such properties arise during development through self-organisation following temporal and spatial factors. I will describe the main features of the topological and spatial organisation of neural systems and how they differ from artificial systems information processing systems such as computers. Recent clinical studies in the last three years have shown that the network features of the healthy brain differ from that of schizophrenia, epilepsy, and Alzheimer’s disease patients. These features even differ depending on cognitive features such as IQ. I will discuss these links between network structure and information processing. Finally, I will outline how these brain connectivity findings could inform research in computer science and engineering.
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