Indiana University Bloomington

Olaf Sporns

Olaf Sporns

M.S., Eberhard-Karls-Universitat, Tubingen, Germany, 1986
Ph.D., Rockefeller University, New York, 1990
Fellow, The Neurosciences Institite, New York, 1990-94
Fellow, The Neurosciences Institute, La Jolla, CA, 1994-2000

Email address: osporns(at)

Research Interests

Most of my research centers on designing computational models of neural circuits that allow new insights into how neural states give rise to perception, cognition and behavior. For example, realistic models of the central visual system have been used to understand aspects of perceptual organization (Gestalt laws) and of visual integration across multiple submodalities. Another interest involves the action of neuromodulators on plastic changes in the activity of neurons and the efficacy of neural connections. Computational models of the effects of neuromodulators (such as dopamine or noradrenaline) can be used to construct systems-level models of learning and memory. A very important aspect of my work involves embedding simulated nervous system models in a real-world device that can sense environmental stimuli and show autonomous behavior. Such devices typically resemble robotic hardware, but are under neural control and are capable of learning from experience. It turns out that "embodiment" of a neural architecture in a real device adds to the capability and adaptability of the nervous system. I am also interested in applying concepts from information theory and graph theory to the analysis of global states of networks, for example in evaluating the amount of information shared between different subdivisions of the nervous system. These more statistical and mathehmatical approaches may be useful in analyzing multidimensional data sets obtained from neurophysiology or neuroimaging.

Representative Papers

Sporns, O. (2010). Networks of the brain. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Rubinov, M., Sporns, O. (2010). Complex network measures of brain connectivity: Uses and interpretations. Neuroimage, 52, 1059-1069.

Hagmann, P., Sporns, O., Madan, N., Cammoun, L., Pienaar, R., Wedeen, V.J., Meuli, R., Thiran, J.P., Grant, P.E. (2010). White matter maturation reshapes structural connectivity in the late developing human brain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 107, 19067-19072.

Honey, C.J., Sporns, O., Cammoun, L., Gigandet, X., Thiran, J.P., Meuli, R., Hagmann, P. (2009). Predicting human resting-state functional connectivity from structural connectivity. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 106, 2035-2040.

Bullmore, E.T, Sporns, O. (2009). Complex brain networks: graph-theoretical analysis of structural and functional systems. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 10, 186-198.

Hagmann, P., Cammoun, L., Gigandet, X., Meuli, R., Honey, C.J., Wedeen, V.J., Sporns, O. (2008). Mapping the structural core of human cerebral cortex. PLoS Biology, 6, e159.