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      The Virtual Brain: a simulator of primate brain network dynamics


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          We present The Virtual Brain (TVB), a neuroinformatics platform for full brain network simulations using biologically realistic connectivity. This simulation environment enables the model-based inference of neurophysiological mechanisms across different brain scales that underlie the generation of macroscopic neuroimaging signals including functional MRI (fMRI), EEG and MEG. Researchers from different backgrounds can benefit from an integrative software platform including a supporting framework for data management (generation, organization, storage, integration and sharing) and a simulation core written in Python. TVB allows the reproduction and evaluation of personalized configurations of the brain by using individual subject data. This personalization facilitates an exploration of the consequences of pathological changes in the system, permitting to investigate potential ways to counteract such unfavorable processes. The architecture of TVB supports interaction with MATLAB packages, for example, the well known Brain Connectivity Toolbox. TVB can be used in a client-server configuration, such that it can be remotely accessed through the Internet thanks to its web-based HTML5, JS, and WebGL graphical user interface. TVB is also accessible as a standalone cross-platform Python library and application, and users can interact with the scientific core through the scripting interface IDLE, enabling easy modeling, development and debugging of the scientific kernel. This second interface makes TVB extensible by combining it with other libraries and modules developed by the Python scientific community. In this article, we describe the theoretical background and foundations that led to the development of TVB, the architecture and features of its major software components as well as potential neuroscience applications.

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          Most cited references 89

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          Impulses and Physiological States in Theoretical Models of Nerve Membrane

          Van der Pol's equation for a relaxation oscillator is generalized by the addition of terms to produce a pair of non-linear differential equations with either a stable singular point or a limit cycle. The resulting "BVP model" has two variables of state, representing excitability and refractoriness, and qualitatively resembles Bonhoeffer's theoretical model for the iron wire model of nerve. This BVP model serves as a simple representative of a class of excitable-oscillatory systems including the Hodgkin-Huxley (HH) model of the squid giant axon. The BVP phase plane can be divided into regions corresponding to the physiological states of nerve fiber (resting, active, refractory, enhanced, depressed, etc.) to form a "physiological state diagram," with the help of which many physiological phenomena can be summarized. A properly chosen projection from the 4-dimensional HH phase space onto a plane produces a similar diagram which shows the underlying relationship between the two models. Impulse trains occur in the BVP and HH models for a range of constant applied currents which make the singular point representing the resting state unstable.
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            Dynamic causal modelling.

            In this paper we present an approach to the identification of nonlinear input-state-output systems. By using a bilinear approximation to the dynamics of interactions among states, the parameters of the implicit causal model reduce to three sets. These comprise (1) parameters that mediate the influence of extrinsic inputs on the states, (2) parameters that mediate intrinsic coupling among the states, and (3) [bilinear] parameters that allow the inputs to modulate that coupling. Identification proceeds in a Bayesian framework given known, deterministic inputs and the observed responses of the system. We developed this approach for the analysis of effective connectivity using experimentally designed inputs and fMRI responses. In this context, the coupling parameters correspond to effective connectivity and the bilinear parameters reflect the changes in connectivity induced by inputs. The ensuing framework allows one to characterise fMRI experiments, conceptually, as an experimental manipulation of integration among brain regions (by contextual or trial-free inputs, like time or attentional set) that is revealed using evoked responses (to perturbations or trial-bound inputs, like stimuli). As with previous analyses of effective connectivity, the focus is on experimentally induced changes in coupling (cf., psychophysiologic interactions). However, unlike previous approaches in neuroimaging, the causal model ascribes responses to designed deterministic inputs, as opposed to treating inputs as unknown and stochastic.
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              Identifying true brain interaction from EEG data using the imaginary part of coherency.

              The main obstacle in interpreting EEG/MEG data in terms of brain connectivity is the fact that because of volume conduction, the activity of a single brain source can be observed in many channels. Here, we present an approach which is insensitive to false connectivity arising from volume conduction. We show that the (complex) coherency of non-interacting sources is necessarily real and, hence, the imaginary part of coherency provides an excellent candidate to study brain interactions. Although the usual magnitude and phase of coherency contain the same information as the real and imaginary parts, we argue that the Cartesian representation is far superior for studying brain interactions. The method is demonstrated for EEG measurements of voluntary finger movement. We found: (a) from 5 s before to movement onset a relatively weak interaction around 20 Hz between left and right motor areas where the contralateral side leads the ipsilateral side; and (b) approximately 2-4 s after movement, a stronger interaction also at 20 Hz in the opposite direction. It is possible to reliably detect brain interaction during movement from EEG data. The method allows unambiguous detection of brain interaction from rhythmic EEG/MEG data.

                Author and article information

                Front Neuroinform
                Front Neuroinform
                Front. Neuroinform.
                Frontiers in Neuroinformatics
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                11 June 2013
                : 7
                1Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes, Aix Marseille Université Marseille, France
                2Department of Neurology, BrainModes Group, Charité University of Medicine Berlin, Germany
                3Codemart Cluj-Napoca, Romania
                4CodeBox GmbH Stuttgart, Germany
                5Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Toronto, ON, Canada
                Author notes

                Edited by: Daniele Marinazzo, University of Gent, Belgium

                Reviewed by: Ingo Bojak, University of Reading, UK; Hans Ekkehard Plesser, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway; Laurent U. Perrinet, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France

                *Correspondence: Paula Sanz Leon and Viktor Jirsa, Institut de Neurosciences des Systèmes, Aix Marseille Université, 27, Bd. Jean Moulin, 13005 Marseille, France e-mail: paula.sanz-leon@ 123456univ-amu.fr ; viktor.jirsa@ 123456univ-amu.fr
                Copyright © 2013 Sanz Leon, Knock, Woodman, Domide, Mersmann, McIntosh and Jirsa.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

                Page count
                Figures: 12, Tables: 2, Equations: 0, References: 129, Pages: 23, Words: 15732
                Methods Article


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