I obtained my PhD in psychology and neuroscience, with a minor in statistics. This combination gave me an appreciation for the need to explore the brain from a strong theoretical foundation and have the quantitative methods to test these theories explicitly. The perspective drove my first research program at the Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest, Univ of Toronto, where it evolved to focus on aging and cognition. My program was further enhanced through an international collaboration that delivered TheVirtualBrain (thevirtualbrain.org) and integrates research efforts globally to accelerate research and translation. The ultimate goals of my program 1) to integrate the modeling platform into the standard workflow for clinical decision support, and 2) develop a cloud-based system where anyone can create brain models for research, clinical use, or education. I have recently moved to Simon Fraser University, where the research program will become a cornerstone for the new Institute for Neuroscience and Neurotechnology.
Abstract – Using The Virtual Brain to trace trajectories of brain health in ageing
We introduced TheVirtualBrain (TVB) to the neuroscience community a decade ago. It was the first platform for creating large-scale simulations of human brain networks and has continued to evolve as a community project, extending to multiple basic and clinical applications and extensions to models of rodent and macaque brains. A singular feature of TVB is that the brain models can be constructed from an individual’s neuroimaging data, giving a great degree of specificity. This is especially relevant in studies across the lifespan, where the biophysical parameters of the model have a direct neurophysiological interpretation (e.g., neural excitation/inhibition). This feature of TVB results in great prediction of cognitive function across age-groups, and by connecting potential trajectories between groups, may provide new information on paths that reflect good brain health. We can extend this to age-related dysfunction, such as dementia, opening a potential for early detection of problematic trajectories and developing mitigation strategies.