Background and Methods

Psychiatric disorders such as depression, schizophrenia, or autism often escape successful treatment. Some disease-related molecular and structural changes in the brain have been identified, but viable accounts of how these changes relate to behaviour are missing. Likewise, the associations between changes in brain and behaviour in the course of normal and pathological cognitive ageing are not well understood. Computational models offer a powerful means for bridging these gaps. Scientists can alter models of normally behaving younger adults to simulate the alleged causes of cognitive ageing or psychiatric disorders (e.g., depression). In the next step they can check whether such alterations result in predicted behavioural deficiencies that resemble those observed in older adults, or in individuals who are in a disease state of interest (e.g., depressed patients). Scientists at the Centre will relate data on the structure and functioning of the brain to detailed behavioural observations of individuals and deduce prognoses for their development.

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