Jose Luis Perez Velazquez

My main scientific and personal search involves the understanding of the relation between brain function and behaviour. To achieve this understanding of the brain-behaviour relation at a high level of description, I seek simple and, possibly, universal principles of biological organisation; thus I hope one day I will at least glimpse at the essence of consciousness and self-awareness. I was originally trained as a biochemist, and, after doing much work on the molecular aspects of neuroscience, I changed levels of description, and therefore I started performing more “holistic” approaches. Thus I moved from the molecular level to the so-called systems level, always aiming to most properly capture/comprehend the essence of the interactions amongst the constituent units of a system (be it whatever it may) that can describe the emergence of organised patterns of activity in the system. Hence, I consider it lucky I walked through many fields; as a result of this sort of scientific pilgrimage, I have acquired a diversified and at the same time integrated view of neuroscience being able to synthesize information from various sources among the diverse levels, having reached a stage where I can provide a global integrative perspective on brain dynamics and behaviour. It is best not to be limited by methodologies and to study a problem from as many perspectives as possible.

While some may think neuroscience is far from reaching the vision of a general organising principle of the structure of cognition, or nervous system dynamics, it is my contention that there is good evidence pointing towards some general principles of brain function that determine cognition —or pathological alterations of cognition. Related observations and concepts are emerging in diverse neuroscientific contexts, which, in my opinion, can be summed up succinctly in an scenario leading towards neuropsychiatric syndromes, an scheme derived from our past research, combining theoretical studies and experimental recordings in vitro and in vivo (details of these aspects can be found in Perez Velazquez, & Frantseva, The Brain-Behaviour Continuum? The subtle transition between sanity and insanity, 2011).  It is our proposal that a common feature underlying the altered connectivity patterns in pathological brains can be revealed in the scrutiny of fluctuations in brain recordings, therefore shifting the attention away from the estimation of grand averages and absolute values of synchronization or connectivity measures widely used in the literature, and focusing on the quantification of the variability. Our general hypothesis is that reduced variability and complexity is a common feature of brain injuries and disorders, or, correspondingly, reduced complexity in the organizational structure of interactions among brain cell ensembles. This could also be a more general phenomenon that may support the search for general principles of biological and nonbiological organization.

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