Brain network dynamics in health and disease

Project Leader: Andrew Zalesky
Staff: Rao Kotagiri, Tony Burkitt, David Grayden
Collaborators: Christos Pantelis (Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre), Luca Cocchi (Queensland Brain Institute), Alex Fornito (Monash Biomedical Imaging), Michael Breakspear (Queensland Institute of Medical Research)
Primary Contact: Andrew Zalesky (
Keywords: Biological Psychiatry; Brain Connectivity; Functional Neuroimaging; Network Science; neuroimaging
Disciplines: Biomedical Engineering,Computing and Information Systems
Domains: Convergence of engineering and IT with the life sciences
Research Centre: Neuroengineering Research Laboratory

Brain activity displays a complex spatiotemporal structure, involving dynamically fluctuating patterns of coordination in neural activity among a large number of brain regions and over a diverse range of timescales. This project aims to investigate the large-scale network dynamics of the human brain in health and disease. Brain imaging data acquired in living humans will be used to develop dynamic network models of neural activity that encompass the whole brain. Network nodes will correspond to cortical and subcortical brain regions and the connectivity between pairs of nodes will be inferred from high-quality resting-state functional-MRI data that has already been acquired in a large group of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and a matched group of healthy individuals. The student will apply cutting-edge network science techniques to study the dynamic behaviour of the brain’s network hubs, modules and its so-called "rich club". This project will deliver network-based brain biomarkers that can accurately and reliably differentiate healthy and diseased brains using brain imaging data. Depending on the student’s interest, opportunities will be made available to investigate psychiatric disorders other than schizophrenia.

Keywords: Network science, brain connectivity, functional neuroimaging, biological psychiatry.

Suggested Reading:

[1] Graph analysis of the human connectome: Promise, progress, and pitfalls (2013) Fornito A, Zalesky A, Breakspear M. NeuroImage. 80:426-444.

[2] Disrupted axonal fiber connectivity in schizophrenia (2011) Zalesky A, Fornito A, Seal ML, Cocchi L, Westin C-F, Bullmore ET, Egan GF, Pantelis C. Biol Psychiatry. 69(1):80-89.

[3] Network-based statistic: Identifying differences in brain networks (2010) Zalesky A, Fornito A, Bullmore ET. NeuroImage. 53(4):1197-1207

Brain regions most consistently forming dynamic functional connections in the resting state.