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Dynamical brain networks: the impact of damage and time

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Reductionism historically forms the basis of science, although we now know that the whole of a scientific theory is almost never simply the sum of its parts. This particularly holds true for neuroscience, where the focus of research has shifted from localization of function to connectivity and network based ...

Reductionism historically forms the basis of science, although we now know that the whole of a scientific theory is almost never simply the sum of its parts. This particularly holds true for neuroscience, where the focus of research has shifted from localization of function to connectivity and network based thinking during recent decades. The brain is a network, combining local specialization with global segregation, and has a hierarchically modular structure. Brain functioning is probably mainly regulated by parts of the network that are most connected with the rest of the brain, so-called ‘hubs’.

An extensive body of current research aims at describing the healthy brain network (if such a unified concept exists) and network differences between healthy and diseased brains. However, it is impossible to understand brain functioning without also taking network dynamics into account. Development of network connectivity is a subject of study, but research has been limited to cross-sectional cohorts, while longitudinal efforts have rarely been made. Furthermore, damage to (brain) networks has a profound effect on connectivity patterns and behavioral correlates. Determining the effect of damage on the instantaneous topology of a network, but also taking more long-term plasticity and dynamics into account, will aid in understanding the behavioral effects of lesions and brain disease and may also direct us towards more tailored treatment strategies for patients inflicted.

We call for authors to submit research manuscripts relating to the effect of lesions or other types of manipulation or intervention on (brain) connectivity and network topology. Also, we hope to elaborate on the effect of time-scale on changes in network topology, by for instance having long-term follow-up of network functioning after initial damage or intervention. In order to gather a full overview of the field, we encourage both computational studies, in vitro work, as well as patient studies to submit. All modalities of neuronal network investigations are welcome, including fMRI, DTI, EEG, and MEG.


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