Randy McIntosh

Randy McIntosh
Baycrest, The Rotman Research Institute, University of Toronto
Toronto, Canada

Speaker of Workshop 1

Will talk about: Cognition = Networks and noise

Bio sketch:

 Dr. McIntosh is a pioneer in the study of how different parts of the brain work together to bring about the wide range of human mental operations. He has combined modern functional neuroimaging methods with mathematical modeling to characterize the changes in brain network dynamics related to awareness and learning, and shown how these dynamics change in normal aging and different clinical conditions. He also has extensive experience with most neuroimaging technologies, including MRI, PET, EEG and MEG. As the leader of the project, Dr McIntosh brings considerable organization skills to the table, having managed a collaboration of 13 Canadian universities in as part of the Ontario Research & Development Fund, and most recently the 5 year collaborative network of 17 investigators Brain NRG. As Vice President of Research and Director of the Rotman Research Institute, Dr McIntosh also leverages the scientific expertise at his home institute to contribute to the next five years of Brain NRG. In particular, the research in stroke recovery done through the Ontario Heart & Stroke Centre for Stroke Recovery will provide access to patient data that will be part of the database to build the Virtual Brain. Indeed, the database at the Rotman Research Institute, which covers healthy individuals from 18-85 yrs, and a variety of patient populations, is a tremendous asset for the NRG.

Talk abstract:

In relating brain signals to mental processes, the assumption is that engaging such processes will activate key regions of the brain. Much like a computer, the region is ‘on’ when the process it subserves is required and ‘off’ when it is not. Some critical features of brain organization suggest we need to rethink this mapping. First, the network architecture enables the pattern of information flow to change without appreciable activity changes. Second, as a nonlinear system, the brain relies on both signal and noise to ensure optimal function. Indeed, the noise may be vital for enabling a full exploration of the cognitive landscape. Considering these two features defines new principles of brain-behaviour linkages, which may also impact our conceptualization of the cognitive constructs.

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