The human brain contains about 90 billion neurons, but Stephanie Jones, PhD, associate professor of neuroscience, doesn’t let that number faze her.
She just released user-friendly software that models the neural circuits in the outer layers of the brain, which produce the electrical activity monitored by noninvasive techniques like EEG. This version of her existing neural model was made possible by a $1.6 million BRAIN grant from the NIH.
“This software is a hypothesis development and testing tool for neuroscience researchers and clinicians,” says Jones, who is affiliated with Brown’s Carney Institute for Brain Science and the Center for Neurorestoration and Neurotechnology, a collaboration led by the Providence VA Medical Center. “I hope it is transformative to medicine.”
Despite the prevalence of EEG in clinical settings, Jones says, the electrical activity that the technique monitors isn’t established as a biomarker for any condition other than epilepsy.
The software, called the Human Neocortical Neurosolver, is free and open source; it includes tutorials to help users understand normal brain function and abnormal brain activity in patients and make predictions about the neural circuits. Researchers can upload EEG recordings from patients and then adjust various parameters of the neural circuits to match and explain the patient data.