Stream LeadersAlex Fornito & Andrew Zalesky
The human brain is arguably the most complex network known to man, comprising billions of nerve cells interconnected by trillions of fibers. Communication within this intricate web of connectivity, termed the human connectome, forms the basis for our thoughts, feelings and behaviour, and its disruption can lead to mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Characterising the structural and functional properties of the connectome represents an important step towards understanding brain function in both health and disease, and has become a central goal of neuroscience.
Our group is focused on the development and application of novel neuroimaging techniques to map structural and functional human brain connectivity. This work generally involves modelling the brain as an integrated, complex system. A particular emphasis is placed on addressing research questions of clinical or neuroscientific significance. Key questions guiding our work include:
- What are the key principles underlying human brain network organization, and are these under genetic influence?
- How are brain networks disrupted by mental illness?
- Can altered brain connectivity be used as a biological diagnostic or clinical marker in people with mental illness?
- How do brain networks reconfigure and adapt to changing psychological contexts?
Our work principally involves the application of graph theoretic methods to human neuroimaging data, particularly structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI). These methods enable detailed mapping of human brain network connectivity and topology. These maps are often combined with behavioural and/or molecular genetic information to uncover the genetic basis of connectome organization.
Fornito, A., Harrison, B. J., Zalesky, A. & Simons, J. S. Competitive and cooperative dynamics of large-scale brain functional networks supporting recollection. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012;109(31): 12788-93.
Fornito, A. & Bullmore, E. T. Connectomic intermediate phenotypes for psychiatric disorders. Front Psychiatry 2012;3: 32.
Zalesky, A., Fornito, A. & Bullmore, E. On the use of correlation as a measure of network connectivity. Neuroimage 2012;60(4): 2096-106.
Zalesky, A., Solowij, N., Yucel, M., Lubman, D. I., Takagi, M., Harding, I. H., Lorenzetti, V., Wang, R., Searle, K., Pantelis, C. & Seal, M. Effect of long-term cannabis use on axonal fibre connectivity. Brain 2012;135(Pt 7): 2245-55.
Fornito, A., Zalesky, A., Bassett, D. S., Meunier, D., Ellison-Wright, I., Yucel, M., Wood, S. J., Shaw, K., O'Connor, J., Nertney, D., Mowry, B. J., Pantelis, C. & Bullmore, E. T. Genetic Influences on Cost-Efficient Organization of Human Cortical Functional Networks. J Neurosci 2011;31(9): 3261-3270.
Zalesky, A., Fornito, A. & Bullmore, E. T. Network-based statistic: identifying differences in brain networks. Neuroimage 2010;53(4): 1197-207.
- Dominic Dwyer - PhD student
- Orwa Dandash - PhD student