The brain is a communication network, and connectivity between the brain regions generates our minds. Along with improvements in data-gathering techniques, brain researchers are increasingly relying on advanced computational tools to analyze large, complex data sets. At the same time, driven by the revolution in information theory, the communications area has accumulated rich methodologies for system modeling, signal extraction and analysis. Driven by the convergence of information theory and neuroscience, this project aims to develop new techniques for brain analysis by exploiting advanced tools in communications. The new technologies resulted from this project can expand and deepen our understanding of brain functions and performances, and can be applied directly to the diagnosis and treatment of age-related dementia; moreover, by integrating these new technological advances into the undergraduate/graduate curricula and outreach activities, this project has significant impacts on the training of a highly skilled and diverse workforce for communications and computational neuroscience.

The goal of the project is to develop innovative methods for quantitative, information-theoretic modeling and characterization of brain connectivity, neuronal activity level, capacities and stability, and to explore the applications of these new techniques in understanding brain functions and human behavioral responses. More specifically, (i) this project introduces an information conservation framework for individual brain regions; for the first time in literature, the neuronal activity level of a brain region is related to its information processing capacity; (ii) this project establishes the conditional equivalence between directed information and dynamic causal modeling, and provides a information-theoretic framework for brain causality analysis; (iii) this project introduces new approaches for quantitative characterization of the stability of individual brain regions, and makes it possible to investigate how brain stability and capacities impact the human behavioral response.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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Michigan State University
East Lansing
United States
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