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On imputing function to structure from the behavioural effects of brain lesions

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Malcolm Young, Dr Jack Scannell


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What is the link, if any, between the patterns of connections in the brain and the behavioural effects of localized brain lesions? We explored this question in four related ways. First, we investigated the distribution of activity decrements that followed simulated damage to elements of the thalamocortical network, using integrative mechanisms that have recently been used to successfully relate connection data to information on the spread of activation, and to account simultaneously for a variety of lesion effects. Second, we examined the consequences of the patterns of decrement seen in the simulation for each type of inference that has been employed to impute function to structure on the basis of the effects of brain lesions. Every variety of conventional inference, including double dissociation, readily misattributed function to structure. Third, we tried to derive a more reliable framework of inference for imputing function to structure, by clarifying concepts of function, and exploring a more formal framework, in which knowledge of connectivity is necessary but insufficient, based on concepts capable of mathematical specification. Fourth, we applied this framework to inferences about function relating to a simple network that reproduces intact, lesioned and paradoxically restored orientating behaviour. Lesion effects could be used to recover detailed and reliable information on which structures contributed to particular functions in this simple network. Finally, we explored how the effects of brain lesions and this formal approach could be used in conjunction with information from multiple neuroscience methodologies to develop a practical and reliable approach to inferring the functional roles of brain structures.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Young MP, Hilgetag C-C, Scannell JW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences

Year: 2000

Volume: 355

Issue: 1393

Pages: 147-161

ISSN (print): 0962-8436

ISSN (electronic): 1471-2970

Publisher: The Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2000.0555

PubMed id: 10703050


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