The brain consumes 20 % of the body’s energy despite constituting only 2 % of the body’s mass. Optimal brain functioning thus requires careful balancing of the brain’s energy budget. This central organising principle has been extraordinarily successful in explaining brain structure, including brain network architectures that minimise wiring length and optimal neural codes for efficient information representation. Despite these successes, most of the brain’s energy expenditure is currently unexplained. The question of how metabolic constraints shape neuronal dynamics – particularly at the large scale – remains largely unanswered. A large part of the problem is that existing models of large-scale brain activity do not explicitly include metabolic variables and so are unable to address dynamical constraints on resources such as oxygen and energy. This project aims to develop a biophysical model to understand how the brain’s need to optimise its energy resources shapes its activity. The project will involve close engagement with neurophysiological and neuroimaging data. This project would suit students with a background in physics, maths, or a related discipline, and an interest in computational neuroscience, with some experience in programming (e.g. in MATLAB).
- Suitable for PhD or Honours student.