Modeling the impact of lesions in the human brain

PLoS Comput Biol. 2009 Jun;5(6):e1000408. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000408. Epub 2009 Jun 12.


Lesions of anatomical brain networks result in functional disturbances of brain systems and behavior which depend sensitively, often unpredictably, on the lesion site. The availability of whole-brain maps of structural connections within the human cerebrum and our increased understanding of the physiology and large-scale dynamics of cortical networks allow us to investigate the functional consequences of focal brain lesions in a computational model. We simulate the dynamic effects of lesions placed in different regions of the cerebral cortex by recording changes in the pattern of endogenous ("resting-state") neural activity. We find that lesions produce specific patterns of altered functional connectivity among distant regions of cortex, often affecting both cortical hemispheres. The magnitude of these dynamic effects depends on the lesion location and is partly predicted by structural network properties of the lesion site. In the model, lesions along the cortical midline and in the vicinity of the temporo-parietal junction result in large and widely distributed changes in functional connectivity, while lesions of primary sensory or motor regions remain more localized. The model suggests that dynamic lesion effects can be predicted on the basis of specific network measures of structural brain networks and that these effects may be related to known behavioral and cognitive consequences of brain lesions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nerve Net / physiopathology*
  • Reproducibility of Results