Brain Modelling

The Brain Modelling Group models and analyses brain structure and dynamics in health and disease. This work currently follows two major themes: developing new diagnostic methods for neonatal brain health and modelling large-scale brain activity across the lifespan.

In neonates, the group uses techniques from physics and machine learning to extract more information than ever before from intensive care monitoring of babies born prematurely. The goal is to enable early detection of injuries and early prognosis of developmental outcomes, so that clinicians can optimise care with personalised markers of brain health, potentially opening the window for new treatments. On the modelling side, the group is harnessing the rapid developments in neuroimaging technology and connectomics to develop new mathematical models of brain activity, in particular at the spatial scales most relevant to human health. The goal is to fill in some of the large gaps in our knowledge of how neuroimaging brain signals emerge from brain structure, on how this relationship varies as we grow and age, and how things can go wrong leading to neurological and psychiatric disorders.


  • modelling large-scale brain dynamics across the lifespan
  • novel methods for early detection and prognosis of preterm brain injury
  • modelling the interplay between brain dynamics and metabolic resources
  • developing novel methods for connectomics


  • Paula Sanz-Leon, Senior Research Officer
  • Nathan Stevenson, Research Officer
  • James Pang, Research Officer
  • Shrey Dutta, PhD Student
  • Saxon Berry, Student
  • Sebastian Rasion, Student
  • Unnah Leitner, Student

External Collaborators

  • Professor Sampsa Vanhatalo, University of Helsinki
  • Professor Michael Breakspear, University of Newcastle
  • Professor Paul Colditz, University of Queensland
  • Professor Linda de Vries, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Netherlands
  • Professor Philip Mitchell & Dr Gloria Roberts, University of New South Wales
  • Professor Mark Woolrich, University of Oxford
  • Rebecca L Cooper Foundation


Regional maturation in developing brain function

Suitable for Honours students only. The brain develops at an astounding rate at, and around, birth. Structural and functional imaging with MRI and EEG shows clear changes at a resolution of weeks. In this project, we will investigate the functional maturation of the brain in preterm infants using EEG at the level of brain region. […]

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Neonatal seizures as a biomarker of underlying pathology

Suitable for Honours students only. Neonatal seizures are a common emergency in the neonatal intensive care unit. They are independently associated with poor neurodevelopmental outcome and are aggressively treated with an array of anti-seizure medications. The diagnostic utility of seizures is less well studied. In this project, we aim to characterise the spatial patterning, temporal […]

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Modelling brain dynamics across the lifespan

Suitable for PhD or Honours students. 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). A major challenge for neuroscience is to understand how the brain’s densely interconnected network of neurons—the “connectome”—gives rise to the […]

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Novel methods for monitoring brain activity in preterm babies

Suitable for PhD or Honours students. This project would suit students with a background in physics, maths, statistics, machine learning, engineering, or a related discipline, with some experience in programming (e.g. in MATLAB). A major challenge in neonatal intensive care is timely and efficient bedside monitoring of the preterm brain to guide optimal individual care. […]

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