Biophysical Modeling of Large-Scale Brain Dynamics and Applications for Computational Psychiatry

Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2018 Sep;3(9):777-787. doi: 10.1016/j.bpsc.2018.07.004. Epub 2018 Jul 19.


Noninvasive neuroimaging has revolutionized the study of the organization of the human brain and how its structure and function are altered in psychiatric disorders. A critical explanatory gap lies in our mechanistic understanding of how systems-level neuroimaging biomarkers emerge from underlying synaptic-level perturbations associated with a disease state. We describe an emerging computational psychiatry approach leveraging biophysically based computational models of large-scale brain dynamics and their potential integration with clinical and pharmacological neuroimaging. In particular, we focus on neural circuit models, which describe how patterns of functional connectivity observed in resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging emerge from neural dynamics shaped by inter-areal interactions through underlying structural connectivity defining long-range projections. We highlight the importance of local circuit physiological dynamics, in combination with structural connectivity, in shaping the emergent functional connectivity. Furthermore, heterogeneity of local circuit properties across brain areas, which impacts large-scale dynamics, may be critical for modeling whole-brain phenomena and alterations in psychiatric disorders and pharmacological manipulation. Finally, we discuss important directions for future model development and biophysical extensions, which will expand their utility to link clinical neuroimaging to neurobiological mechanisms.

Keywords: Computational model; Functional connectivity; Neuroimaging; Resting-state; Schizophrenia; Transcriptomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biophysics / methods*
  • Brain* / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain* / pathology
  • Brain* / physiopathology
  • Connectome / methods*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders* / diagnostic imaging
  • Mental Disorders* / pathology
  • Mental Disorders* / physiopathology
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Neuroimaging / methods*
  • Psychiatry / methods*
  • Transcriptome*