The University of California, Merced Cognitive & Information Sciences Faculty proudly present the

2016 Distinguished Cognitive Scientist Award Presentation


Olaf Sporns, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor, Provost Professor, Robert H. Shaffer Chair
Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Indiana University

Title: Modules, Hubs and Communication Dynamics in Brain Networks
Date and time : Monday, May 9th, 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Location: SSM-117, UC Merced

Abstract: Recent years have seen significant advances in mapping structural and functional brain connectivity across several species, including humans. Common features of brain networks encountered in numerous studies are network modules (clusters of densely connected network elements) and hubs (nodes that are highly connected, central or vulnerable). Modules and hubs may have important roles to play in the way brain regions transfer and exchange information. I will discuss how hubs are defined and detected in structural and functional network data, and what predictions network models make about their contribution to signaling and communication processes (“communication dynamics”). I will review recent work on how brain hubs are linked into “cores” or “rich clubs” and what this type of network architecture can tell us about integrative brain function.  I will end with a brief discussion of how network tools allow us to track changes in networks across time, for example spontaneous and task-evoked fluctuations in human functional brain networks.

Title: Networks of the Brain – New Perspectives on the Structure and Function of Nervous Systems
Date and time : Monday, May 9th, 3:00 – 4:30 PM
Location: KL-232, UC Merced

Abstract: Complex social, technological and biological systems are increasingly understood as networks, defined as collections of elements that are wired together or interact with each other in intricate patterns. Brain networks are key examples. Structurally, they are composed of a very large number of neurons that are linked by an extraordinarily dense web of synaptic connections. Functionally, they can generate a virtually infinite set of dynamic patterns that are believed to underpin cognitive states and behavior. In this talk I will introduce the emerging new field of “network neuroscience” and survey some of the insights that have resulted from approaching brain structure and function from a network perspective. I will also discuss possible future applications of network approaches in human cognition, development and clinical science.

Biography: After receiving an undergraduate degree in biochemistry, Olaf Sporns earned a PhD in neuroscience at Rockefeller University and then conducted postdoctoral work at The Neurosciences Institute in New York and San Diego. Currently he is the Robert H. Shaffer Chair, a Distinguished Professor, and a Provost Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University in Bloomington. He is co-director of the Indiana University Network Science Institute and holds adjunct appointments in the School of Informatics and Computing and the School of Medicine. His main research area is theoretical and computational neuroscience, with a focus on complex brain networks. He has authored over 190 peer-reviewed publications as well as the recent books “Networks of the Brain” and “Discovering the Human Connectome”, published by MIT Press. Sporns was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 2011 and was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2013.

The Distinguished Cognitive Scientist Award is bestowed annually by the Cognitive and Information Sciences faculty at the University of California, Merced. It has been sponsored by Robert J. Glushko and Pamela Samuelson.