Thesis defense Suhas Vijayakumar (Donders series 436)
19 May 2020
Promotor: prof. dr. P. Medendorp
Co-promotor: dr. R. Mars
Principles of parietal-frontal cortical organization
Answering big questions like “What makes humans different from other animals?” or “What led to the emergence of human culture?“, requires us to study the brains of multiple species. Assuming brains have evolved to support the needs of an animal to survive in its environment, we can use comparative neuroscience to compare and contrast the brains of other animals to that of humans. During his PhD, Suhas Vijayakumar investigated ways to achieve the same using resting state connectivity data in macaques and humans and argued for the usefulness of arriving at a hypothesis based on an evolutionary argument. In his thesis work, he first demonstrated that data-driven methods could be used to study the organizing principles of the brain. Then, compared the inferior parietal lobe (IPL) of macaques and humans and identified interesting differences in the connectivity profiles of the expanded regions of IPL in humans. He then focused on the function of one of the regions in the frontal lobe - the caudal prefrontal cortex - and verified its involvement in redirecting attention in both visual and auditory modalities in humans. Thus, the thesis provides ways to study the evolution of the brain across species, and discusses its implication for function in humans.