The connectomics of brain disorders

Alex Fornito, Andrew Zalesky, Michael Breakspear

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1022 Citations (Scopus)


Pathological perturbations of the brain are rarely confined to a single locus; instead, they often spread via axonal pathways to influence other regions. Patterns of such disease propagation are constrained by the extraordinarily complex, yet highly organized, topology of the underlying neural architecture; the so-called connectome. Thus, network organization fundamentally influences brain disease, and a connectomic approach grounded in network science is integral to understanding neuropathology. Here, we consider how brain-network topology shapes neural responses to damage, highlighting key maladaptive processes (such as diaschisis, transneuronal degeneration and dedifferentiation), and the resources (including degeneracy and reserve) and processes (such as compensation) that enable adaptation. We then show how knowledge of network topology allows us not only to describe pathological processes but also to generate predictive models of the spread and functional consequences of brain disease
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-172
Number of pages14
JournalNature Reviews Neuroscience
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015


  • computational neuroscience
  • network models
  • neurodegeneration
  • neurological disorders

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