The importance of cerebellar connectivity on simulated brain dynamics
Fulvia Palesi, Roberta Maria Lorenzi, Claudia Casellato, Petra Ritter, Viktor Jirsa, Claudia A.M. Gandini Wheeler-Kingshott and Egidio D’Angelo
The brain shows a complex multiscale organization that prevents a direct understanding of how structure, function and dynamics are correlated. To date, advances in neural modeling offer a unique opportunity for simulating global brain dynamics by embedding empirical data on different scales in a mathematical framework. The Virtual Brain (TVB) is an advanced data-driven model allowing to simulate brain dynamics starting from individual subjects’ structural and functional connectivity obtained, for example, from magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The use of TVB has been limited so far to cerebral connectivity but here, for the first time, we have introduced cerebellar nodes and interconnecting tracts to demonstrate the impact of cerebro-cerebellar loops on brain dynamics. Indeed, the matching between the empirical and simulated functional connectome was significantly improved when including the cerebro-cerebellar loops. This positive result should be considered as a first step, since issues remain open about the best strategy to reconstruct effective structural connectivity and the nature of the neural mass or mean-field models generating local activity in the nodes. For example, signal processing is known to differ remarkably between cortical and cerebellar microcircuits. Tackling these challenges is expected to further improve the predictive power of functional brain activity simulations, using TVB or other similar tools, in explaining not just global brain dynamics but also the role of cerebellum in determining brain states in physiological conditions and in the numerous pathologies affecting the cerebro-cerebellar loops.
Front Cell Neurosci. 14:240 (2020)