Emma Towlson

Assistant Professor

Computer Science

Full Member

Hotchkiss Brain Institute

PhD

University of Cambridge, 2015

MMathPhys

University of Warwick, 2011

Contact information

Web presence

Website

Location

Office : ICT745

Research and teaching

Research areas

  • Dementia & Cognitive disorders
  • The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research and Education

Research activities

My interests and skillsets lie in the nascent field of network neuroscience. Network science has been instrumental to our understanding of systems as disparate as the
social networks of Twitter, the biological networks of our bodies, and the transportation networks that connect the globe. In this new explosive era for connectomics, neuroscience is perhaps poised as the discipline with the most to gain from network science. The brain is inherently a network, at all spatiotemporal scales: from the interactions of proteins and genes within the cell, to neuronal circuitry, to correlations between the activation patterns of macroscopic brain regions. Understanding each part of the hierarchy and their interconnectedness is vital to understanding brain structure, function, and cognition. Studying the brain at these various levels has led to the emergence of network neuroscience: a network science affiliated field within the brain-based scientific frontier. Network neuroscience offers powerful mathematical frameworks and computational tools with which to explore the structure-function relationship in neuroscientific datasets in a data-driven, integrative, whole-system fashion. Time and again, studies into the architecture of brain networks across different species, scales, and modalities recover the same topological features, including “rich clubs”, modules, and a balance between wiring cost and network efficiency. Insights into the healthy organizational principles of the brain can also provide insight into unhealthy organization that underlies brain disorder and disease. In particular, recent advances in network control theory are offering a new and fundamental framework with which to describe the workings of the brain, and importantly, bridge the gap between structure and function. The brain must be able to maintain a tight functional control between the system’s inputs and outputs, indicating the importance of control to the functioning of any neural system. My recent work explores how network control can shed light on the fundamental principles of wiring in C. elegans, and how network control principles in the human brain can be used to describe various brain disorders and diseases and predict therapeutic interventions (eg. through non-invasive brain stimulation).


Publications

PubMed