Our scope of research
The Institut de Neuroscience des Systèmes (INS) was created in January 2012 under the direction of Patrick Chauvel (Director) and Viktor Jirsa (Co-Director) and is a mixed Inserm-University research unit located on the medical La Timone campus of Aix-Marseille University. In September 2014, the two directors exchanged roles with Viktor Jirsa as Director and Patrick Chauvel as Co-Director.
INS was created in the spirit of the dynamic brain, with the perspective of the brain as a network and dynamically evolving spatiotemporal pattern forming system, capable of executing cognitive functions, as well as showing highly dynamic dysfunctions such as epilepsy. As such INS attracted expertise from computational, cognitive and clinical neuroscience, as well as biomedical imaging and signal analysis.
INS comprises nowadays 30 permanent faculty members and 75 institute members in total, occupying office and laboratory space in both the Medical Faculty building (approx. 1000m2) and the Hospital (approx. 200m2), as well as space for the clinical services. INS houses a high-performance computing cluster dedicated to neural modelling (The Virtual Brain (TVB)), an MEG platform, a coupled EEG-TMS platform, one bi-photon imaging system and an epileptic patient unit with stereotactic EEG (sEEG).
For a long time, experimental and clinical researchers have been interested in the dynamic network properties of different levels of organization ranging from ion channel kinetics to behavior through networks and networks of networks. The multiplicity of conceptual frameworks renders it difficult to relate different measures on different levels of analysis to each other and thus demands theoreticians to overcome this difficulty and traverse the scales of organization, as well as to develop generative network models making clear predictions that will be open to the experimental test. Inversely, the empirical groups will be able to provide the crucial experimental data to validate the models and theories.
The originality of INS lies not only in the fact that the three approaches (experimental, clinical and theoretical) are housed in the same institute, which allow for close collaborations and truly interdisciplinary research. Equally important, the three approaches are based on the same conceptual background, which will allow researchers to study the same problems together rather than in parallel.