2014–2015

On the Growth and Form of the Brain

Biology/Physics

Biological function is intimately tied to morphology and shape at all levels and thus begs for a quantitative approach to describe, predict, and compare shapes. This project aims to develop and deploy mathematical and computational methods to unfold the complexity (from the Latin cognates "plecare,” meaning fold, and “com,” meaning together) of the brain, the soft layered tissue that is cradled by the cranium which has a rich folded morphology with an important functional role, information processing. Specifically, the study addresses three complementary topics: 1) a description of brain shape and form at the tissue level using computational tools; 2) a prediction of brain morphology using mathematical models that combine biological growth, geometry, physics (deformation and flow), and feedback; and 3) a comparison of extant brain shapes across organisms to characterize an evolutionary phylogeny of brain morphospace.

The student will perform data analysis, ideally having facility with programming in Matlab, C. Analysis of data from brain imaging will help characterize the normal and abnormal variations in brain morphology and function.

The student will learn quantitative skills—e.g., shape and pattern analysis, which are broadly applicable.

 

2014–2015 research partnership opportunities