Even the simplest conscious percepts or actions involve connectivity across distributed sets of brain regions. The traditional understanding of such neural communication has been challenged by more recent empirical observations. Specifically, much of neural connectivity is predominantly intrinsic in nature (i.e. independent of external stimuli or cognitive demands) and organized in a spatial pattern governing the whole brain called the functional connectome. The connectome continuously and spontaneously exhibits functionally important reconfigurations, i.e. time-varying changes or dynamics in connectivity patterns. Beyond spontaneous dynamics, higher-order cognitive control networks actively modulate functional connectivity and regional activity to flexibly meet cognitive demands. My research team at UIUC, the CONNECT lab (Control and Network Connectivity Team), investigates how both spontaneous and actively controlled dynamics of the functional connectome shape cognition and behavior.
The lab has particular interest in three major research areas:
1. The role of the brain’s functional connectome and its reconfigurations in cognition (funded by the National Institute of Mental Health),
2. Functional characterization of large-scale brain networks underlying top-down control, and
3. Changes in both of these aspects of brain function in psychiatric and neurological populations (partly funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke).
A hallmark of the lab’s approach to answering these questions is its multi-modal nature. We combine fMRI, scalp EEG and intracranial EEG, including concurrent multi-modal recordings.