Rationale and Structure
The behavioral neurosciences and related disciplines have seen spectacular scientific advances that make them rich in scientific opportunity. The combination of functional neuroimaging with sophisticated computational modeling of cognitive processes has revolutionized our understanding of fixed and variable properties of human mental processes. These advances now make it possible to work towards a mechanistic understanding of behavioral 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, personalized lifespan approach by identifying neural and behavioral parameters that predict more or less favorable trajectories, with the intent to intervene in time when undesirable outcomes are expected.
Computational modeling 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 optimizing behavior 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. Modeling offers a powerful tool to understand the relations between brain and behavior, at levels from the ethology of the fit of behavior 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 aging.
The Coordination Committee represents the four research institutions most directly involved in the Centre.
Wellcome Trust Centre for 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