In the real brain, the prefrontal cortex, which is a center for complex thought, social behavior and more, is a hub. "It is thus reasonable to think that the functional connectivity of the prefrontal cortex is altered in pathologies like schizophrenia", said Galn.
Indeed, the network in the epileptic brain model is less complex than the healthy model and the network in the schizophrenia model is even less so. The result is that the dominance of the hubs falls off, which may be indicative of a neuropathology or mental illness, the researchers say.
Their analysis reveals that oscillating brain activity in the virtual models appear to emerge from interactions among neurons and not from so-called pacemakers, which some researchers hypothesize are specialized neurons generating different rhythms of activity in the brain.
This information, combined with finding that healthy brain rhythms are not homogeneously distributed across all virtual brain nodes, supports the idea that oscillations may be a mechanism linking perceptual information across sensory and associative areas of the brain, the researchers say.
Galn and Steinke also discovered that nodes receiving the greatest input produced the smallest fluctuations in activity in the healthy and epileptic brain models. But the inverse relationship was not seen in the schizophrenic model.
The researchers have made the computer programs that run their algorithms and simulations available free to clinicians and other investigators who want to test the predictions made by the models or to expand their own studies. They are included in the supplemental materials, along with technical instructions supplied with the paper or at http
|Contact: Kevin Mayhood|
Case Western Reserve University