Subject keywords: Neuroscience, Big data, Connectomes, Social cognition, Primate species
Project summary : Primates, including humans and monkeys, are intensely social animals (Sliwa et al, Revue Primatologie 2019). To analyze our social environments, our brains make use of three networks of areas we uncovered recently (Sliwa & Freiwald, Science 2017). Yet we don’t know how these networks are connected to each other. The project aims at understanding both anatomical and functional connections between brain networks for social processing, with the goal of uncovering the social brain connectome of these two primate species. Questions include: 1. Which brain areas are nodes connecting brain networks together? 2. How is connectivity dynamically changing when watching different types of social or non-social scenes. The immediate outcome of this project will be a better understanding of how our brain biology evolved within the primate lineage. The far reaching goal will be to contribute knowledge to better model social cognition impairments often occurring in major psychiatric and neurological disorders (including schizophrenia, depression and autism). Functional and anatomical connectivity images have already been acquired for each human and monkey subject using fMRI and DWI. The project will focus on analyzing these sets of data, by adapting tools used for human brain connectivity analysis to be used with monkey brain images.
Tools and methodologies: Dynamic causal modeling, Granger causality for functional connectivity analysis; Diffusion weighted imaging analyses for anatomical connectivity
Requirements. The project lies at the intersection between neuroscience, comparative ethology and large data sets analysis. It will be perfectly fitted for a student interested in neuroscience, data science and/or primate societies. Having basic knowledge in coding in Matlab, Python, or a similar language would be a big plus.