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Home | Seminars and Symposia | Past seminars/symposia: Wednesday, December 2, 2015

DTC Science and Technology Innovators Lecture Series

Computational Connectomics: Brain Networks and Communication Dynamics


Olaf Sporns
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Indiana University

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
4:30 p.m. reception
5:00 p.m. lecture

401/402 Walter Library

View webcast of this lecture (Webex format)

Recent years have seen significant advances in mapping structural and functional brain connectivity across several species, including humans. Common features of brain networks encountered in numerous studies are network modules (clusters of densely connected network elements) and hubs (nodes that are highly connected, central or vulnerable). The potentially important roles of modules and hubs are highlighted by the consideration of “communication dynamics” – the ebb and flow of information within the overall network. This talk will focus on how structural networks shape and constrain communication dynamics, with emphasis on the role of modules and hubs. I will review recent work on how brain hubs are linked into “cores” or “rich clubs” and what this type of network architecture can tell us about integrative brain function. I will also give a few examples of computational models that can help understand the role of network topology in how brain regions communicated and integrate information.


After receiving an undergraduate degree in biochemistry, Olaf Sporns earned a PhD in neuroscience at Rockefeller University and then conducted postdoctoral work at The Neurosciences Institute in New York and San Diego. Currently he is the Robert H. Shaffer Chair, a Distinguished Professor, and a Provost Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University in Bloomington. He is co-director of the Indiana University Network Science Institute and holds adjunct appointments in the School of Informatics and Computing and the School of Medicine. His main research area is theoretical and computational neuroscience, with a focus on complex brain networks. He has authored over 180 peer-reviewed publications as well as the recent books Networks of the Brain and Discovering the Human Connectome, published by MIT Press. Sporns was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 2011 and was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013.