Rationale and Structure
The behavioural neurosciences and related disciplines have seen spectacular scientific advances that make them rich in scientific opportunity. The combination of functional neuroimaging with sophisticated computational modelling of cognitive processes has revolutionised our understanding of fixed and variable properties of human mental processes. These advances now make it possible to work towards a mechanistic understanding of behavioural ageing and psychopathology, two empirically overlapping fields of great importance to science and society. In both fields, it is of key importance to take a computational, personalised lifespan approach by identifying neural and behavioural parameters that predict more or less favorable trajectories, with the intent to intervene in time when undesirable outcomes are expected.
Computational modelling plays a fundamental role in this enterprise. First, it provides a normative account of neural and cognitive function based on the premise that the brain has evolved exquisite solutions to the hard problem of optimising behaviour in the face of substantial uncertainty. Second, it serves as a formal method for tying together data and understanding at psychological and neural levels of investigation. Modelling offers a powerful tool to understand the relations between brain and behaviour, at levels from the ethology of the fit of behaviour to relevant niches, all the way to molecular mechanisms and their modulation by neurotransmitter systems in the context of vascular and metabolic constraints. We suggest that relating fundamental psychological and neurobiological processes to parameters of computational models will help us understand how and why these processes go awry in psychiatric disease and with normal and pathological ageing.
The Coordination Committee represents the four research institutions most directly involved in the Centre.
Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging
Max Planck Institute for Human Development
Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences
Max Planck UCL Centre for Computational Psychiatry and Ageing Research