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Virtual brain could aid surgical planning

Personalized brain models could improve surgical planning and outcomes

Society for Neuroscience

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IMAGE: Structural brain network in a brain tumor patient from the study. Different brain regions are depicted as spheres, whose size indicates the relative importance within the network. The strength and... view more 

Credit: Hannelore Aerts

Researchers have simulated neural activity based on the unique structural architecture of individual brain tumor patients using a platform called The Virtual Brain. The findings, reported in eNeuro, are a first step toward creating personalized brain models that could be used to predict the effects of tumors and consequent surgery on brain function.

Brain surgery is delicate work that requires careful planning to maximally remove a tumor while leaving the surrounding tissue intact. Common techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) are used to map out a surgical strategy by identifying important functional areas close to the tumor. These approaches are limited, however, in their ability to predict post-surgical outcome because of the complex dynamics of the brain and the widespread modifications of brain activity.

Using the open-source software The Virtual Brain, Hannelore Aerts and a team led by Daniele Marinazzo modeled 25 individual brain networks of brain tumor patients and 11 of their partners as a control group. The researchers demonstrated that these individualized models can accurately predict the effects of the tumors on brain connectivity. This result opens the possibility of integrating neuroimaging data with virtual brain modeling to improve surgical planning and outcomes.

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Article: Modeling brain dynamics in brain tumor patients using The Virtual Brain*
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1523/ENEURO.0083-18.2018
Corresponding author: Daniele Marinazzo (Ghent University, Belgium), daniele.marinazzo@ugent.be

*A preprint of this manuscript has been posted on bioRxiv: https://doi.org/10.1101/265637

About eNeuro

eNeuro, the Society for Neuroscience's open-access journal launched in 2014, publishes rigorous neuroscience research with double-blind peer review that masks the identity of both the authors and reviewers, minimizing the potential for implicit biases. eNeuro is distinguished by a broader scope and balanced perspective achieved by publishing negative results, failure to replicate or replication studies. New research, computational neuroscience, theories and methods are also published.

About The Society for Neuroscience

The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.

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