Randy McIntosh

Director, Rotman Research Institute
Vice President, Research at Baycrest

Building and Interacting with The Virtual Brain


The Virtual Brain (TVB, thevirtualbrain.org) is an international project that uses real neuroimaging data to construct a simulation of the human brain. Anatomical data setup the conduit for communication between different brain regions. The dynamics for each region are generated from a library of nonlinear models, and produce large-scale activity patterns that can be compared directly to empirical functional data, such EEG/MEG or functional MRI. The talk will present the core of the platform and its applications to understanding the structure-function interplay that forms the basis of cognitive architectures. TVB's use of real data is also at the heart of a larger social neuroscience initiative, wherein small groups of people interact with TVB through wireless EEG headsets, modifying an immersive audiovisual environment that mimics a dream - My Virtual Dream. The goal is to make use of individual brain signals to augment the group experience through TVB. The two avenues of development for TVB will inform neurally-inspired computing architectures and the evolution of interactive devices that can use a person's physiology to redesign their experience.


Dr. Randy McIntosh is a world-renowned expert in the use of neuro-imaging methods (fMRI, PET, EEG and MEG) and computational modeling to understand how brain networks change with aging and how the brain recovers from damage or disease. Randy is leading a multi-million dollar project with an international team of scientists to build the world's first, functional virtual brain (thevirtualbrain.org). The massive project - akin to decoding the human genome - has the potential to revolutionize how clinicians assess and treat various brain disorders, including cognitive impairment caused by stroke and Alzheimer's disease. The Virtual Brain also was at the heart of a more recent effort merging art and science, called My Virtual Dream (myvirtualdream.ca), which debuted at the ScotiaBank Nuit Blanche event in Toronto, September 2013. The immersive audio-visual installation makes use of cutting-edge brain-computer interface technology to have the participants join in a conversation with the Virtual Brain to drive dream sequences of animations and music.

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