Seminar Series

Structural support for (and constraints upon) cognitive control in humans

The human brain is a complex organ characterized by heterogeneous patterns of interconnections. Non-invasive imaging techniques now allow for these patterns to be carefully and comprehensively mapped in individual humans, paving the way for a better understanding of how wiring supports cognitive processes. While a large body of work now focuses on descriptive statistics to characterize these wiring patterns, a critical open question lies in how the organization of these networks constrains the potential repertoire of brain dynamics. In this talk, I will describe an approach for understanding how perturbations to brain dynamics propagate through complex wiring patterns, driving the brain into new states of activity. Drawing on a range of disciplinary tools – from graph theory to network control theory and optimization – I will identify control points in brain networks and characterize trajectories of brain activity states following perturbation to those points. Finally, I will describe how these computational tools and approaches can be used to better understand the brain's intrinsic control mechanisms and their alterations in psychiatric conditions.