Special Seminar: Rosalyn Moran ” Translating Brain Connectivity in Health and Disease”

Thursday, Jan.29 @ 1PM in Steinman Hall Rm 402 

Rosalyn J Moran, PhD

Assistant Professor, VTC Research Institute
Assistant Professor, Bradley Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Medicine Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
Virginia Tech

In this talk I will present Bayesian perspectives on the human brain, both as a methodology to assess brain activity and as an analogy of brain function more generally. In the first part of my talk, I will introduce Dynamic Causal Modeling (DCM) as a ‘mathematical microscope’ for assessing functional brain networks. Using noninvasive neuroimaging data, I will demonstrate how biologically motivated generative models can be deployed with approximate (variational) Bayesian inference techniques to infer upon the complex and latent neuronal architectures that subtend these observed time-series data. Using examples from pathological and pharmacologically-altered cortical circuits, I will show how DCM can also help elucidate the key parameters that contribute to abnormal brain function.

In the second part of my talk I will present a mathematical deconstruction of age-related changes in cortical processing motivated by the Free Energy Principle. This principle hypothesizes a simple optimization that the brain may perform and a potential implementation based on predictive coding. From this perspective, the brain itself represents a model of its environment and offers predictions about the world through a subset of cortical connections, while responding – through learning – to novel interactions and experiences. I will provide evidence for selective alterations in these predictive and updating processes over the lifespan and examine potential adaptive and maladaptive consequences. Overall, the talk will cover how the brain could ‘do inference’ on the environment, and how scientists can ‘do inference’ on the brain.

Neural Engineering