Connectomics and Consciousness: Integrating Information in Brain Networks

Olaf Sporns, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington


The study of brain networks has become an important new research direction in modern neuroscience, in part driven by the development of novel high-resolution brain mapping and recording technologies that deliver increasingly large and detailed “big neuroscience data”. Network science offers a new framework for how to model and analyze neural systems, from individual neurons to circuits and systems spanning the whole brain. A core theme of network neuroscience is the comprehensive mapping of anatomical and functional brain connectivity, also called connectomics. In this presentation I will review current themes and future directions of network neuroscience, including comparative studies of brain networks across different animal species, investigation of prominent network attributes in human brains, and – most importantly – the use of computational models to map information flow and communication dynamics. Of particular interest in the context of consciousness are those network attributes that promote the integration of information across network systems and modules.