Seminar by Prof. Marcus Kaiser on The Human Green Brain Project

18 March 2015


The Human Green Brain Project:

Computational Models of the Developing Connectome

Marcus Kaiser

School of Computing Science / Institute of Neuroscience,

Newcastle University, UK

 

When: 18/March/2015 - 5:00pm

Where: CS Department (DCC), FCUP, Rua do Campo Alegre, 1021 / Amphitheatre 2

Abstract: 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. Recent advances in neuroimaging, using diffusion tensor imaging, allow us to observe how the human brain network differs over ages ranging from the embryonic to the adult stage. In the Human Green Brain Project (http://www.greenbrainproject.org/), which started in October 2013, we analyse how the human brain network arises during development by combining data analysis with simulations of brain development. Objectives are to develop a simulation of human brain development, to analyse network features of human brains at different developmental stages, and to compare simulations with real data to discover the underlying mechanisms for brain network development. Understanding these mechanisms will be crucial to identify the causes and predicting the best treatment options for neurodevelopmental disorders such as epilepsy and schizophrenia. Through the analysis of human connectivity data, we find that while connections are reduced during development (10-40 years), this process spares long-distance connections that are crucial for information integration. Furthermore, this process of connection refinement starts earlier in girls than in boys. We will present computational models that can account for some of the changes that are seen during network development and see how these changes influence brain function in health and disease.

Biography: Marcus Kaiser studied biology and computer science at the Ruhr-University Bochum and the Distance University Hagen finishing with a master degree in 2002. He obtained his PhD, funded by a fellowship from the German National Merit Foundation, from Jacobs University Bremen in 2005. He is initiator and co-director of the Wellcome Trust PhD programme in Systems Neuroscience and leader of the UK INCF Special Interest Group in Image-based Neuroinformatics. He authored the first major review (Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2004; cited 1,100+ times) and more than 50 other publications in the field of brain connectivity.  Research interests are understanding the link between structure and function by modelling brain development, neural dynamics, and therapeutic interventions (see http://www.dynamic-connectome.org/ ).