Danielle Bassett

College of Science Distinguished Speaker - Open to the public
Thursday February 20, 2014    4 p.m. Gosnell Hall 08-A300 (reception to follow in the Atrium)

Human Brain Network Dynamics


Ann M. Hermundstad, Danielle S. Bassett, Kevin S. Brown, Elissa M. Aminoff, David Clewett, Scott Freeman, Amy Frithsen, Arianne Johnson, Christine Tipper,  Michael B. Miller, Scott T. Grafton, Jean M. Carlson. Structural foundations of resting-state and task-based neural activity in the human brain. PNAS 110(15):6169-74.


Each area of the human brain plays a unique role in processing information gleaned from the external world and in driving our responses to that external world via behavior. However, the brain is far from a set of disconnected building blocks. Instead, parts of the brain communicate with one another in complex spatiotemporal patterns that enable human behavior. Understanding this spatio-temporal complexity requires a paradigmatic shift in our conceptual approaches, empirical thrusts, and quantitative methods. In this talk, I will describe the recent use of tools from network science to understand the structure and function of the human brain. With these novel approaches, we can begin to characterize the ``connectome’’, a model representation of neurobiological data that encapsulates both constituent elements of the brain (network nodes) and their interactions with one another (network edges). In a critical innovation, we imbue network edges with temporal dependence to capture the dynamics of the ever-reconfiguring brain communication patterns that support cognition.  I will recount the utility of dynamic network approaches in not only understanding, but also predicting individual differences in adaptive functions such as learning, and in delineating healthy versus diseased brain communication dynamics. An emerging frontier, dynamic network neuroscience provides a powerful new conceptual and mathematical framework with which to understand adaptive human capabilities because it embraces the inherently evolving, interconnected nature of neurophysiological phenomena underlying human thought.


Danielle  Bassett Danielle S. Bassett is the Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania. She received a B.S. in physics from the Pennsylvania State University and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge, UK. Following a postdoctoral position in the Complex Systems Group at the University of California Santa Barbara, she was a Junior Research Fellow at the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind. A current focus of her group at Penn lies in developing analytic tools to probe the hard-wired pathways and transient communication patterns inside of the brain in an effort to identify organizational principles, to develop novel diagnostics, and to design personalized therapeutics for rehabilitation and treatment of brain injury, neurological disease, and psychiatric disorders.