YY Ahn, an associate professor of informatics and computing at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, is part of a group of researchers that has been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to study brain-behavior relationships and functional brain network organization and dynamics using the new edge-centric functional connectivity approach.
The award, worth nearly $740,000, aims to identify modes of brain-behavior relationships at rest and across tasks using edge-centric network models as well as mapping associations between time-varying connectivity with complex, naturalistic stimuli using an edge-centric mode. The work will advance the understanding of brain-behavior relationships and how individual brain networks rapidly reconfigure in response to complex, naturalistic stimuli.
“I’m thrilled to see an idea that has fascinated me for a decade is going to help make breakthroughs in neuroscience,” Ahn said. “Ten years ago, my colleagues and I published a paper based on the idea that considering the relationships between people (social ties or “edges”)—rather than people—as the fundamental units of analysis lets us naturally incorporate the fact that people have multiple roles and belong to multiple social groups. And we argued that this may be applicable for all kinds of real-world networks. My colleagues on this grant have developed a really nice method to apply the idea to neuroscience data, so the idea of the grant is to develop this promising approach further so that we can better understand how our brains function.”
Ahn will be working with Assistant Professor Richard Betzel and Distinguished Professor Olaf Sporns from the IU Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, as well as Amanda Mejia, an assistant professor from the IU Department of Statistics.
“The research into the edge functional connectivity has just begun, so there are lots of open possibilities for this work,” Ahn said. “But, given the higher resolution we can operate with the edge functional connectivity approach, we hope to better understand the link between behaviors and brain activities. I’m excited to work with the amazing colleagues.”
The modeling framework will create a novel approach even for those with experience in network neuroscience.
“The interdisciplinary nature of the research at the Luddy School consistently opens the door to discoveries, and YY and his colleagues have the potential to make a huge impact on modeling brain behavior interaction,” said Kay Connelly, associate dean for research at the Luddy School. “Modeling the brain is extraordinarily complex, and it takes novel approaches to take steps forward. This research is a perfect example of our faculty willing to approach problems in new ways.”