Team, Visitors, External Collaborators
Overall Objectives
Research Program
Application Domains
Highlights of the Year
New Software and Platforms
New Results
Partnerships and Cooperations
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Section: Overall Objectives


The main objective of Athena is to develop rigorous mathematical models and computational tools for analyzing and modeling the complex Central Nervous System structure and function. These models and tools will help to better understand the structure and the functioning of the human brain and address pressing and challenging clinical and neuroscience questions. Exploring new directions to solve these challenging problems will push forward the state-of-the-art in Structural and Functional Computational Brain Connectivity Mapping.

The relationship between brain structure and function is fundamental in neuroscience. Developing computational models and techniques that recover the structural and functional connectivities of the brain in vivo is thus of utmost importance: it will definitely improve the understanding of the brain and its mechanisms. On the basis of our expertise and contributions to the field of computational neuroimaging and in order to have an impact on this field, our research focusses mainly on the structural and functional Imaging of the brain with a particular emphasis on signal and image recording from diffusion Magnetic Resonance Imaging (dMRI), Magneto-Encephalography (MEG) and Electro-Encephalography (EEG).

In order to further increase the impact of our research, we also aim to push our contributions towards some applications related to brain diseases with characteristic abnormalities in the micro-structure of brain tissues that are not apparent and cannot be revealed reliably by standard imaging techniques. Diffusion MRI, a non invasive imaging modality based on the measurement of the random thermal movement (diffusion) of water molecules within samples can make visible these co-lateral damages to the fibers of the brain white matter and can also help in the development of new biomarkers related to the progression of certain types of neurodegenerative disease. Diffusion MRI is the imaging modality that we will primarly consider to recover the structural brain connectivity.

Connectivity represents the network infrastructure of the brain. Electric activity corresponds to communications over this network. MEG and EEG (jointly as M/EEG), two non-invasive techniques, reveal part of the cortical electric activity and are instrumental in better understanding the brain functional connectivity and in diagnosing diseases linked to anomalous brain function - that in some cases structural or other functional MR images do not reveal. MEG and EEG are the imaging modalities that we will primarly consider to recover the functional brain connectivity.

In some CNS injuries (medullar injuries, strokes, AMS), the peripheral nervous system may not be able to execute commands that are issued by the brain. Brain Computer Interfaces (BCI) use brain signals such as measured through EEG, and translate in real-time the electrical activity of the brain in commands to control external devices. While BCI is advocated as a means to communicate and help restore mobility or autonomy for very severe cases of disabled patients, it is also a new tool for interactively probing and training the human brain.

These considerations support the need to do research on new models and computational tools to analyse brain signals and imaging data. Our main objective is to push forward the state-of-the-art in Structural and Functional Computational Brain Connectivity Mapping to better understand the structure and function of the brain.

In order to tackle these long term and challenging objectives, our strategy is based on the following road map:

This is implemented through: