A team of Indiana University neuroscientists has built a new model of human brain networks that could help researchers understand human behavior and cognitive abilities and practitioners classify brain disorders and diseases.
The model maps and highlights the brain structures—including cells, groups of cells or specific regions—and “the ongoing, overlapping series of ‘conversations’ between those structures,” the university said.
The new model allows those conversations to be tracked on a more precise time scale than has been previously available.
“The model gives us a new perspective on the brain that adds clarity to what we already know about how the brain functions,” said Richard Betzel in a statement released by IU.
Betzel, a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, is the senior author of a new study about the model in Nature Neuroscience. He said it “highlights new organizational features that we hope to use down the road as diagnostic tools or as biomarkers for certain disorders.”
Betzel’s lab has started to use the model in classifications of autism spectrum disorder with IU psychological and brain sciences autism researcher Dan Kennedy.
In addition, IU neuroscientist Olaf Sporns—working with researchers at the Indiana Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at the IU School of Medicine—has started to use the model in the context of dementia, memory tasks and executive tasks. Researchers are trying to see if they can find a marker for those at risk for Alzheimer’s disease.•