AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 3, 2018

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How Does Brain Structure Influence Performance on Language Tasks?

Computational modeling shows promise as a tool for probing this question, a study finds

The architecture of each person’s brain is unique, and differences may influence how quickly people can complete various cognitive tasks.

But how neuroanatomy impacts performance is largely an open question.

To learn more, scientists are developing a new tool — computational models of the brain — to simulate how the structure of the brain may impact brain activity and, ultimately, human behavior. The research focuses on interconnectivity within the brain, looking at how different regions are linked to and interact with one another (traits that vary between individuals).

In an initial proof-of-concept study, a team led by University at Buffalo mathematician Sarah Muldoon finds that this approach shows promise for understanding the interplay between brain structure and performance on language-related tasks.

“We are creating these personalized brain network models to understand what the brain is doing, based on how connected different regions of a person’s brain are to one another,” says first author Kanika Bansal, a postdoctoral researcher jointly working at UB, the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and Columbia University.

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