Shih-I Pai Lecture

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23rd Annual Shih-I Pai Lecture
"Perturbation and Control of Human Brain Network Dynamics"
by Danielle S. Bassett

When: Tuesday, October 17, 2017

  • 3:00 pm – Reception in the James A. Yorke Rotunda, William E. Kirwan Hall
  • 4:00 pm – Lecture in the Physics Lecture Hall, Room 1412, Physics Building

The Institute for Physical Science and Technology and The Department of Physics presents the 23rd Annual Shih-I Pai Lecture. The Shih-I Pai lecture series commemorates the many contributions and the remarkable legacy of Professor Shih-I Pai (1913-1996), to the study of aerodynamics and fluid dynamics. Professor Pai was a University of Maryland faculty member from 1949 to 1996, and founding member of the Institute for Fluid Dynamics and Applied Mathematics, now the Institute for Physical Science and Technology.

Speaker: Danielle S. Bassett, Eduardo D. Glandt Faculty Fellow, Bioengineering Department, University of Pennsylvania, MacArthur Fellow 2014.

Biography: Danielle S. Bassett is Associate Professor and Eduardo D. Glandt Faculty Fellow in the Bioengineering Department at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Bassett received her B.S. in in physics from Pennsylvania State University in 2004, and her Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge in 2009.

Dr. Bassett’s research group studies biological, physical, and social systems by using and developing tools from network science and complex systems theory. They are developing analytic tools to probe the hard-wired pathways and transient communication patterns inside the brain in an effort to identify organizational principles, to develop novel diagnostics of disease, and to design personalized therapeutics for rehabilitation and treatment of brain injury, neurological disease, and psychiatric disorders.

Dr. Bassett was a postdoctoral associate (2009–11) and a Sage Junior Research Fellow (2011–13) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, before joining the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. Her scientific papers have appeared in journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Neuron, Nature Neuroscience, Physical Review E, Journal of Complex Networks, Journal of Computational Neuroscience and Chaos, among others. In 2014 she became the youngest recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship.

Abstract: The human brain is a complex organ characterized by heterogeneous patterns of interconnections. New non-invasive imaging techniques now allow for these patterns to be carefully and comprehensively mapped in individual humans, paving the way for a better understanding of how wiring supports our thought processes. While a large body of work now focuses on descriptive statistics to characterize these wiring patterns, a critical open question lies in how the organization of these networks constrains the potential repertoire of brain dynamics.

In this talk, I will describe an approach for understanding how perturbations to brain dynamics propagate through complex wiring patterns, driving the brain into new states of activity. Drawing on a range of disciplinary tools – from graph theory to network control theory and optimization – I will identify control points in brain networks, characterize trajectories of brain activity states following perturbation to those points, and propose a mechanism for how network control evolves in our brains as we grow from children into adults. Finally, I will describe how these computational tools and approaches can be used to better understand how the brain controls its own dynamics (and we in turn control our own behavior), but also how we can inform stimulation devices to control abnormal brain dynamics, for example in patients with severe epilepsy.

For more information, contact Mary Kearney at (301) 405-4814 or