Animus Laboratory

Revolutionising patient diagnosis and mechanistic understanding by advancing computational neurodynamic modelling - from neurons to whole-organ dynamics.

From an evolutionary perspective, the brain arises in complex organisms as a centralised orchestrator of all organ systems with the target of ensuring survival and adaptation in a changing environment. In this elaborate orchestration, the intercommunication is far from trivial, involving numerous electrical and chemical mechanisms –brain activity- at different scales.

Our laboratory studies the mechanistic basis of brain activity in micro-scale neuron circuits and macro-scale neuron dynamics from an integrated physiology point of view. In this view, we develop integrated computational models fusing neurodynamics and neurovascular coupling, as the drivers and enablers of brain function. Our multidisciplinary researchers have the commonality of developing computational models unlocking the simulation of brain activity for subject-specific conditions, giving us a unique insight into the animus – the mind.

Our research

Brain neurodynamics

Brain activity gives rise to complex planning and control tasks in an organism. These processes depend on the integration of multiple inputs to the central nervous system and on its internal state. The synchronised response of the central nervous system is vital for adapting the internal state and interacting with the environment. We understand neurodynamics as the combination of all these previous processes. We focus on the neurodynamics at two scales: tissue- and organ-level neurodynamics.

In tissue-level neurodynamics, we study cell interactions based on endoscopic calcium imaging and image processing techniques. We are devising techniques to identify neuronal connectivity and the involved neurotransmitters to understand the basis of interneuron communication and information codification within the brain.

In organ-level neurodynamics, we study subject-specific brain connectivity across different brain regions. In turn, the brain activity in each region is characterised by the tissue-specific anatomy, offering a unique personalised tool to explore brain physiology.

Neurovascular coupling

Brain function requires complex delivery and removal of chemical compounds to sustain its activity. The cardiovascular system is at the heart of that complex process via neurovascular coupling. In this process, brain activity requires nutrients and oxygen, and generates by-products such as carbon dioxide that must be cleared to maintain tissue homeostasis. Distribution and removal of these compounds directly depend on the amount of blood flow reaching the tissue, which is regulated via changes in the radii of brain vessels.

We are developing computational models of this complex phenomenon to understand the relationship between brain activity and blood flow supply for specific subjects. We will translate these tools to improve analysis of functional MRI (widely used in research and clinic). This improved analysis will allow us to identify neurovascular coupling disfunction in Alzheimer’s and mild cognitive impairment patients - resulting in improved methods for clinical diagnosis and prognosis.

Primary contacts

Dr Gonzalo D. Maso Talou (Principal Investigator)
Dr Finbar Argus


Academic staff

Dr Gonzalo D. Maso Talou
Dr Soroush Safaei
Dr Finbar Argus

Professional staff

Chinchien Lin
Shan Su


Jiantao Shen
Robyn May
Harshil Magan
Gurleen Singh
Cameron Apeldoorn
Stephen Creamer
Sergio Dempsey
Alireza Sharifzadeh-Kermani
Maxwell Zhu
Kekayan Nanthakumar
David Shaw


Alonso Alvarez (Laboratório Nacional de Computação Científica)
Pablo J Blanco (Laboratório Nacional de Computação Científica)
Frank Bloomfield (UoA)
Oscar Camara (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
Gunnar Cedersund (Linköping University)
Juliette Cheyne (UoA)
Maurice Curtis (UoA)
Flavio dell’Acqua (King’s Collage London)
Gustavo Deco (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
David Dubowitz (UoA)
James Fisher (UoA)
Tom Gentles (UoA)
Sarah-Jane Guild (UoA)
Samantha Holdsworth (UoA)
Victoria Low (UoA)
Peter Mombaerts (Max Plank Institute)
Lucas O Muller (University of Trento)
Martyn Nash (UoA)
Julian Paton (UoA)
Mahyar Osanlouy (UoA)
Miriam Scadeng (UoA)