Complex Brain Networks in Health, Development and Disease

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Mathematics and Statistics


We are all familiar with complex networks: How does a computer virus spread around the internet? How does a contagious disease get passed around a popluation? How does a rumour spread through a workforce? It has been found that common patterns of connectivity tend to arise in lots of different types of network. Computer scientists, physicists and mathematicians have developed techniques to analyse, categorise and explain these patterns. Very recent brain scanning technology allows us to look at networks within the living human brain: Which parts of the brain are connected to which other parts? This project will apply the tools of network analysis to this new experimental data. It will allow us to address fundamental questions such as: How is the human brain wired up?, and What makes the human brain different from that of other primates? Also, by comparing brain scans from healthy and diseased patients, we can look at issues such as: What goes wrong with the wiring in patients with Alzheimer s disease or Multiple Sclerosis or schizophrenia?, and What type of medical intervntion is likely to be useful?

The project team
involves neuroscientists, computer scientists and mathematicians and has access
to cutting edge brain scan data from the
Centre for Functional Magnetic Imaging of the Brain at the
University of Oxford
and John Radcliffe Hospital.

Technical Summary

Modern non-invasive experimental neuroscience techniques can now make avialable data that begins to describe the intricate multi-scale connectivity patterns in the human brain. This proposal will apply tools of complex network analysis that have emerged in computer science, physics and mathematics to this new data source. This will allow us to characterise and measure global properties, explain network evolution, find and interpret network motifs and predict global behaviour from individual components. Results will contribute both to basic biological and medical science and to the study of brain development, ageing evolution and disorders. This interdiscliplinary project will extend an existing successful collaboration between neuroscientists, computational scientists and mathematicians. Access to cutting edge, whole-brain diffusion data from the FMRIB centre at Oxford adds enormous value to this paoposal.


10 25 50
publication icon
Crofts JJ (2009) A weighted communicability measure applied to complex brain networks. in Journal of the Royal Society, Interface

publication icon

publication icon
Dawson N (2014) Subanesthetic ketamine treatment promotes abnormal interactions between neural subsystems and alters the properties of functional brain networks. in Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology

publication icon
Grindrod P (2009) Periodic reordering in IMA Journal of Numerical Analysis

publication icon
Grindrod P (2009) Evolving graphs: dynamical models, inverse problems and propagation in Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences

publication icon
Kuchaiev O (2009) Geometric de-noising of protein-protein interaction networks. in PLoS computational biology

publication icon
Lee C (2010) Non-negative matrix factorization for network reordering in Monogrfias de la Real Academie de Ciencias de Zaragoza

publication icon
Taylor A (2011) Discovering bipartite substructure in directed networks in LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics

Description Doctoral Training Centre PhD studentship
Amount £57,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2010 
End 08/2013
Description EPSRC Bridging the gap
Amount £3,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 04/2009 
End 07/2009
Description EPSRC Mathematics Programme and RCUK Digital Economy Programme
Amount £180,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2011 
End 01/2013
Title MATLAB software 
Description Two collections of network databases available freely on-line as testbeds for researchers in network science, including neuroscience. These are described in CONTEST: A Controllable Test Matrix Toolbox for MATLAB, A. Taylor and D. J. Higham, ACM Trans. Math. Software., 35, 2009, 26:1-26:17 NESSIE: Network Example Source Supporting Innovative Experimentation, A. Taylor and D. J. Higham, in Network Science, eds E Estrada, M Fox, D J Higham. G-L Oppo, 2010, 85-106, Springer 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of Data/Biological Samples 
Year Produced 2008 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact N/A 
Description Pratt group 
Organisation University of Strathclyde
Department Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Research collaboration with Prof Judy Pratt (Strathclyde).
Collaborator Contribution Provision of data and biological interpretation of results.
Impact Mulitdipsciplinary collaboration, where network science tools are used to add value to the analysis of experimental data in neuroscience. The data includes behavioural and metabolomic studies of a model schizophrenia in rats. A discipline-hopping pos-doc was funded for 3 montsh under an EPSRC Bridging the Gap scheme and three manuscripts are in preparation. This lalso led to an EPSRC-funded PhD studentship, co-supervised between the two labs.
Start Year 2009