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See detailDevelopment and validation of analytical methods for quantifying isoflavones and equol in biological matrices
Daems, Frédéric ULg

Doctoral thesis (2016)

Isoflavones are natural plant substances that attract widespread interest because of their association with a large variety of beneficial effects on human health. When they are ingested by animals or ... [more ▼]

Isoflavones are natural plant substances that attract widespread interest because of their association with a large variety of beneficial effects on human health. When they are ingested by animals or humans, most of these compounds are metabolized by bacteria present in the digestive system. Among the isoflavone microbial metabolites, equol is probably the most widely studied because it seems to have numerous health benefits. In the human population, however, not everyone is able to produce equol. Equol enrichment of some food, such as cow's milk, could be an alternative strategy for making equol’s health benefits available to everyone. The main objective of the present thesis was to develop analytical tools for quantifying these compounds in several biological matrices, thus contributing to the feasibility study being conducted on producing milk naturally enriched with equol. For this purpose, four analytical procedures, using ultra performance liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC®-MS/MS), were developed and fully validated. The analytical tools were then applied successfully in two original exploratory studies that sought to quantify equol concentrations in commercial cow's milk in Belgium and study the evolution of isoflavone concentration in red clover (Trifolium pratense L.) silage in laboratory-scale silos. This thesis describes new and reliable analytical tools that will help to improve current knowledge about the feasibility of producing cow's milk naturally enriched with equol and to study isoflavone metabolization in dairy cow. [less ▲]

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See detailThe link between self-perceptions of aging, cancer view and physical and mental health of older people with cancer: A cross-sectional study
Schroyen, Sarah ULg; Marquet, Manon ULg; Jerusalem, Guy ULg et al

in Journal of Geriatric Oncology (2016)

Objectives Older people may suffer from stigmas linked to cancer and aging. Although some studies suggested that a negative view of cancer may increase the level of depression, such an association has ... [more ▼]

Objectives Older people may suffer from stigmas linked to cancer and aging. Although some studies suggested that a negative view of cancer may increase the level of depression, such an association has never been studied in the elderly population. Similarly, even though it is established that a negative self-perception of aging has deleterious consequences on mental and physical health in normal aging, the influence in pathological contexts, such as oncology, has not been studied. The main aim of this study is thus to analyze the effect of these two stigmas on the health of elderly oncology patients. Materials and Methods 101 patients suffering from a cancer (breast, gynecological, lung or hematological) were seen as soon as possible after their diagnosis. Their self-perception of age, cancer view and health (physical and mental) was assessed. Results Multiple regressions showed that patients with a more negative self-perception of aging and/or more negative cancer view reported poorer global health. We also observed that negative self-perception of aging was associated with worse physical and mental health, whereas negative cancer views were only linked to worse mental health. No interaction was observed between these two stigmas, suggesting that their action is independent. Conclusion Older patients with cancer face double stigmatization, due to negative self-perception of aging and cancer, and these stigmas have impacts on global and mental health. Self-perception of aging is also linked to physical health. Longitudinal studies will be necessary to analyze the direction of the association between this double stigmatization and health. [less ▲]

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See detailLes détournements artistiques du jeu vidéo / When art hijacks video games
Barnabé, Fanny ULg; Meyers, Raquel; Vilela, Tatiana

Conference given outside the academic context (2016)

Video games are an inexhaustible source for the production of tools and content that anyone can take possession of as and when they wish. For players, this means indulging in the creation of fanfiction ... [more ▼]

Video games are an inexhaustible source for the production of tools and content that anyone can take possession of as and when they wish. For players, this means indulging in the creation of fanfiction, machinima, modding or speedrunning. But video games are also modified by artists, whether for producing glitch art or designing (video)game experiments, etc. To discuss the areas in which these artistic alterations of video games are made, a round table will bring together: Fanny Barnabé, a PhD student in Liège whose thesis is on various ways of modifying video games; Raquel Meyers, who develops artistic experiments in text mode, starting with the Commodore 64; and Tatiana Vilela, a digital artist who specialises in designing gaming experiments. [less ▲]

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See detailLes déclarations non vérifiées de témoins au regard du procès équitable
Michiels, Olivier ULg; Falque, Géraldine ULg

in Journal des Tribunaux (2016), (6656), 485-490

Dans l’arrêt Schatschaschwili contre Allemagne, la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme s’est particulièrement attachée à préciser les principes qui s’appliquent aux déclarations d’un témoin absent au ... [more ▼]

Dans l’arrêt Schatschaschwili contre Allemagne, la Cour européenne des droits de l’homme s’est particulièrement attachée à préciser les principes qui s’appliquent aux déclarations d’un témoin absent au procès, susceptibles de fonder la culpabilité d’un accusé. Les éclaircissements que l’arrêt de la Grande Chambre ambitionne d’apporter à ce sujet retiendront notre attention dès lors que l’équité du procès pourrait être compromise par la déposition d’un témoin que la défense n’a pas pu, directement ou indirectement, faire interroger. Après avoir rappelé le contexte factuel et procédural dans lequel s’inscrit la cause, nous tenterons de dégager les lignes de force de l’arrêt commenté. Enfin, nous nous efforcerons de mettre ces enseignements en perspective avec la jurisprudence de la cour de Cassation relative à l’article 6, § 3, d) de la Convention qui reconnaît notamment le droit à tout accusé d’interroger ou faire interroger un témoin à charge, pour terminer par une brève conclusion. [less ▲]

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See detailMetabolites from media supplemented with 3’-sialyllactose and fermented by bifidobacteria have an antivirulent effect against intestinal pathogens
Bondue, Pauline ULg

Poster (2016, September 16)

Introduction Complex oligosaccharides from human milk (HMO) promote growth of bifidobacteria such as Bifidobacterium bifidum [1]. Whey, a by-product of dairy-industry, contents complex oligosaccharides ... [more ▼]

Introduction Complex oligosaccharides from human milk (HMO) promote growth of bifidobacteria such as Bifidobacterium bifidum [1]. Whey, a by-product of dairy-industry, contents complex oligosaccharides (BMO) similar to HMO, which are mainly represented in colostrum by 3’-sialyllactose (3’SL) [2]. Bifidobacterium crudilactis, a species of bovine origin, encodes for β galactosidases and α-glucosidases and could therefore be able to metabolise those BMO [3; 4; 5]. In addition, fermentation products from bifidobacteria can produce antivirulent activity against intestinal pathogenic bacteria [6; 7]. This study focused on capacity of bifidobacteria to metabolise BMO, more particularly 3’SL, and on potential antivirulent effect of cell-free spent media (CFSM) against virulence gene expression of pathogenic bacteria. Material and methods B. bifidum BBA1 and B. crudilactis FR/62/B/3 isolated respectively from breastfed children feces and from cow raw milk cheese were grown on media supplemented with BMO or 3’SL, as sole source of carbon. The CFSM were harvested after centrifugation of cells culture, freeze-dried and concentrated 10 fold. Next, their effects were tested against virulence gene expression using ler and hilA promoter activity of luminescent constructs of Escherichia coli 0157:H7 ATCC 43888 and Salmonella Typhimurium SA 941256, respectively. The effect was confirmed on wild type strains of E. coli O157:H7 ATCC 43890 and S. Typhimurium ATCC 14028 using RT-qPCR. Results Both strains were able to grow in presence of whey or 3’SL, but B. crudilactis showed the best growth compared to B. bifidum. The highest cell concentrations were observed with media containing whey (8.9 ± 0.6 log cfu/ml and 8.1 ± 0.3 log cfu/ml, respectively). CFSM from fermented media supplemented with 3’SL resulted in under-expression of hilA and ler genes for the luminescent constructs and in under-expression of ler (ratios of -15.4 and -8.1) and qseA (ratios of -2.1 and -3.1) genes for the wild type strain of E. coli O157:H7. No effect was observed for the wild type strain of S. Typhimurium. Discussion B. crudilactis presented the best growth potential probably because its genome encodes the enzymatic machinery to use BMO (β galactosidases and α-glucosidases) [3; 4; 5]. The positive effect of media supplemented with milk products on growth of probiotics has been demonstrated previously [8]. CFSM obtained from media supplemented with 3’SL down-regulate several virulence genes of E. coli O157:H7 and potentially S. Typhimurium. This effect has been observed previously with CFSM obtained from fermentation of lactic acid bacteria or bifidobacteria, by production of antivirulent metabolites [2; 3]. BMO combined with some bifidobacteria strains of bovine or human origin could therefore be an interesting synbiotic to maintain or restore the intestinal health of young children. These effects observed in vitro will be further investigated regarding the exact nature of the active molecules. References 1. Garrido D. et al. (2013). Microbiology 159: 649-664. 2. Urashima T. et al. (2013). Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 77: 455-466. 3. Sela D. A. (2011). Int J Food Microbiol 149: 58-64. 4. Milani C. et al. (2014). Appl Environ Microbiol 80: 6290-6302. 5. Bondue P. & Delcenserie V. (2015). Korean J Food Sci Anim Resour 35: 1-9. 6. Medellin-Pena M. J. et al. (2007). Appl Environ Microbiol 73: 4259-4267. 7. Bayoumi M. A. & Griffiths M. W. (2012). Int J Food Microbiol 156: 255-263. 8. Champagne C. P. et al. (2014). Can J Microbiol 60: 287-295. [less ▲]

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See detailWhat’s the difference? Results of a functional study of Aterian and Mousterian tools from the site of Ifri n’Ammar (Morocco)
Tomasso, Sonja ULg; Rots, Veerle ULg

Conference (2016, September 16)

Until today, the definition of the North African Mousterian has been based on a systematic comparison with the European Mousterian. Particularly the “Aterian” and its tanged tools have been widely ... [more ▼]

Until today, the definition of the North African Mousterian has been based on a systematic comparison with the European Mousterian. Particularly the “Aterian” and its tanged tools have been widely discussed. Researchers considered the tanged Aterian tools as early indications of the existence of hafting techniques [1]. It is currently not entirely understood how the Aterian relates to the Mousterian in North Africa, whether tanged tools can indeed be linked with hafting, and whether non-tanged tools were also hafted, which could indicate that a variety in hafting techniques existed. The site of Ifri n’Ammar presents an ideal chance to compare Aterian and Mousterian technocomplexes. The rock shelter is located in the eastern Moroccan Rif and has a rich and well preserved stratigraphy where Middle Paleolithic tools are abundantly represented [2]. At Ifri n’Ammar, the Aterian and Mousterian assemblages are inter-stratified, which means that the relationship of these industries cannot simply be explained in terms of chronological succession [2,3]. The density of retouched artefacts differs between the Aterian and the Mousterian levels and tanged tools are present in the denser Aterian levels only. These levels also show a higher overall tool frequency. We present the results of a functional study focusing on the artefacts from the upper levels (“Occupation supérieure”) of Ifri n’Ammar, dated between 83 ± 6 ka and 130 ± 8 ka [3]. The functional study was combined with a specific experimental program designed to address questions raised during the analysis of the archaeological material, with a specific focus on hafting. Diagnostic microscopic wear patterns confirm that the tanged tools were used while hafted. Tanged tools did not prove to be related to hunting activities only, but various tool uses could be identified. They all fit, however, within the context of hunting and animal processing activities. The reuse of hafted armatures for other activities is not evident in the present sample. [less ▲]

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See detailLe centre monumental de Baelo Claudia. Rapport 2015-2016
Brassous, Laurent; Deru, Xavier ULg; Rodríguez Gutiérrez, Oliva et al

Report (2016)

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See detailLes assemblées médiévales et leur héritage dans le droit constitutionnel contemporain
Behrendt, Christian ULg; Vandenbosch, Sofia ULg

Scientific conference (2016, September 16)

Conférence donnée dans le cadre du colloque international organisé à l'occasion du 700e anniversaire de la Paix de Fexhe (1316-2016), Liège, Palais provincial, 16 septembre 2016.

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See detailOn-farm Evolution of Genetic Diversity of Four Old Varieties of Phaseolus vulgaris L.
Caproni, Leonardo; Raggi, Lorenzo; Klaedtke, Stephanie ULg et al

Poster (2016, September 16)

On-farm evolution of crop genetic diversity has a key role in adaptation of agricultural systems to changes. The aim of this work was to understand how four different old common bean varieties, which ... [more ▼]

On-farm evolution of crop genetic diversity has a key role in adaptation of agricultural systems to changes. The aim of this work was to understand how four different old common bean varieties, which being made of different genotypes can be referred to as populations, evolved on-farm during three years of multiplication (from 2012 to 2014) in two different experimental sites (Brittany and Luxembourg) under organic farming conditions. The four populations (Flageolet Chevrier Vert, Rognon de Coq, Roi des Belges, Saint Esprit à Œil Rouge) were chosen among those grown by two small-scale organic seed farmers while the commercial variety (Calima) was included as control. In 2015 the initial and the evolved populations were grown in a common field and characterized with morpho-phenological traits. In the same year, young leaf tissues were collected from 94 samples per population (total of 470 samples) for DNA extraction and molecular characterization. Genotyping was carried out using 22 SSR loci and fluorescent PCR amplicons analysed on an ABI3130xl sequencer. Molecular data were then used for multivariate analysis, analysis of molecular variance and pair-wise Fst statistics calculation. Genotyping resulted in the production of about 20K data points. A total of 83 different alleles were identified in 16 polymorphic loci ranging from two (BMb293, BM156, BMd-44) to 18 (BMd-43). The first two axis of the Principal Coordinates analysis (PCoA) explained 76,13% of total diversity and clearly distinguished the five groups of populations. Analysis of Molecular Variance (AMOVA) showed that 76, 20 and 4% of total diversity is among populations, individuals and within individuals, respectively. Only for multiplications carried out in Luxemburg significant differentiation between the original populations and final populations were found in two old varieties (Flageolet Chevrier Vert and Rognon de Coq, Fst = 0.117 and 0.143, respectively, P≤0.001). The results showed that in Luxemburg farmer practices and pedo-climatic conditions significantly shaped the diversity of the two populations. This is confirmed by phenotypic observations, as these multiplications also significantly differed (p<0.05) for flowering date for all varieties except 'Roi des Belges'. [less ▲]

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See detailCoefficients binomiaux de mots
Rigo, Michel ULg

Scientific conference (2016, September 15)

Le coefficient binomial (u,v) de deux mots u et v est défini comme le nombre de fois que v apparaît comme sous-suite du mot u. Par exemple, (abbab,ab)=4. Il étend de manière naturelle le coefficient ... [more ▼]

Le coefficient binomial (u,v) de deux mots u et v est défini comme le nombre de fois que v apparaît comme sous-suite du mot u. Par exemple, (abbab,ab)=4. Il étend de manière naturelle le coefficient binomial de deux entiers. Ce concept a été largement étudié depuis plus d'une trentaine d'années (cf. par exemple, Simon et Sakarovitch). Dans cet exposé, je passerai tout d'abord en revue quelques résultats combinatoires classiques pour ensuite m'attarder sur l'équivalence k-binomiale. A l'instar de l'équivalence k-abélienne étudiée par Karhumäki et al., deux mots x et y sont k-binomialement équivalents si leurs coefficients binomiaux (x,v) et (y,v) coïncident pour les mots v de longueur au plus k. En fin d'exposé, j'évoquerai l'extension récente des triangles de Pascal et de Sierpinski à ces coefficients. [less ▲]

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See detailWhich role for State intervention in Collective bargaining? Measures to moderate wages in times of crisis : the belgian example
Kéfer, Fabienne ULg

Scientific conference (2016, September 15)

The belgian collective bargaining model has resisted since the crisis of 2008 and adapted. The mesures of moderating wages are negociated by de representative organisations. Since 2010, however ... [more ▼]

The belgian collective bargaining model has resisted since the crisis of 2008 and adapted. The mesures of moderating wages are negociated by de representative organisations. Since 2010, however, interprofessionnal bergaining is blocked. Interventions of public authority in the evolution of wages are subsidiary but reccurrent since. [less ▲]

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See detailPerformance de l'indicateur Azote Potentiellement Lessivable pour l'évaluation de la gestion du nitrate en agriculture et du risque pour la qualité de l’eau
Vandenberghe, Christophe ULg

Doctoral thesis (2016)

Since the end of last century, the nitrate concentration in groundwater has steadily increased in Wallonia as in other parts of Europe, particularly in regions where agriculture is intensively practised ... [more ▼]

Since the end of last century, the nitrate concentration in groundwater has steadily increased in Wallonia as in other parts of Europe, particularly in regions where agriculture is intensively practised. In response to this, Europe developed a ' Nitrates ' directive in 1991 that each member state had to transcribe in its legislation. In the Walloon region, the transcription took the form of a Sustainable Nitrogen Management Program (PGDA). This program provides among others control of farms through the analysis of nitrate nitrogen soil residue, in autumn, the beginning of the leaching period of nitrate. This measure is commonly referred to as APL for ‘Potentially Leachable Nitrogen’. The results are assessed by comparison to references established annually based on observations in plots where PGDA is applied and where fertilization recommendations are based on nitrogen balance. In case of non -compliance, the farmer has to follow an observation program, or even to pay a fine. The aim of the thesis is to evaluate the performance of the APL as agronomic (nitrogen management) and environmental indicator (risk to groundwater quality). On the agronomic side, through experimentations or treatment of field APL controls, it has been demonstrated that the indicator was well correlated with fertilization practices and intercrop management. The performance of the indicator has been validated. Some uncertainty factors (intra-plot variability, temporal variability, bulk density, stone content) were quantified. Finally, the influence of soil physicochemical properties on the APL was studied and discussed. The performance of the APL control was also discussed and improvements to regulation have been proposed. On the environmental side, through observations made during a decade in plots equipped with a lysimiter or in a small watershed, the dependence of the nitrate concentration in water (at the base of the root zone or in aquifer) to the APL has been demonstrated. It therefore appears that the APL can be used to firstly assess the reality of the sustainable nitrogen management in controlled farms and also to validate or, if necessary, complete the PGDA to make it more efficient for water quality preservation / restoration. [less ▲]

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See detailAcoustic indices provide information on the status of coral reefs: an example from Moorea Island in the South Pacific
Bertucci, Frédéric; Parmentier, Eric ULg; Lecellier, Gaël et al

in Scientific Reports (2016), 6(33326), 1-9

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See detailAssessment of vertical contamination of Cd, Pb and Zn in soils around a former ore smelter in Wallonia, Belgium
Liénard, Amandine ULg; Colinet, Gilles ULg

Conference (2016, September 14)

Examples of sites contaminated by atmospheric fallouts are numerous across former industrial areas, among which the valleys of Sambre and Meuse in Wallonia hosted metal ore treatment factories. We have ... [more ▼]

Examples of sites contaminated by atmospheric fallouts are numerous across former industrial areas, among which the valleys of Sambre and Meuse in Wallonia hosted metal ore treatment factories. We have studied the fate of Cd, Pb and Zn in soils affected by atmospheric deposition in the vicinity of old smelters. The importance of vertical redistribution of contaminants in soils is questioned and the aims of this paper are to i) characterize the vertical distribution of TEs and soil properties along diverse soil profiles, ii) evaluate enrichment or impoverishment of TEs along the profiles to discriminate anthropogenic or geogenic origin of contaminations and iii) evaluate whether soil type or land use influenced the mobility of contaminants in the selected profiles. Concentrations of trace elements (Cd, Co, Cr, Cu, Ni, Pb, and Zn) and major elements (Ca, Mg, K, Fe, Al, and Mn) as well as pHKCl and TOC were measured on 22 profiles located in a 3 km radius of a former ore treatment plant in Wallonia (Belgium). Enrichment factor (EF), vertical impoverishment factor (VIF), and availability ratio (AR) were used as diagnostic tools of contamination and migration of Cd, Pb, and Zn in profiles. Data revealed that soil profiles are significantly contaminated. The ranges of enrichment factors for Cd (17-3570), Pb (1-2883), and Zn (2-309) are very broad with the higher EF in the topsoil of profile. VIFs of subhorizons are rarely above 1. In a few remaining cases with VIF > 1, the main factor explaining is soil type (especially, Colluvic Regosols, Luvisols, and, Cambisols with shale load). Cd, Pb and Zn ARs are strongly correlated with TOC and to a lesser extent with pHKCl. Pb and Zn ARs are influenced by soil type and land use only plays on Zn AR. The Cd availability is independent by these two factors. The contents of trace elements measured in soil profiles are very high especially in topsoil. Until now, the Cd, Pb, and Zn vertical distribution shows a low migration from topsoil up to depth. However, we must not minimize the hazard of a future potential transfer. [less ▲]

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See detailRadiosynthesis and preclinical development of [18F]labeled tryptophan for human indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase PET imaging
Henrottin, Jean ULg

Doctoral thesis (2016)

Nowadays, Cancer is probably the global incidence disease which is the most widespread, the most varied, still constantly rising and that can affect all levels and social classes of the population. Its ... [more ▼]

Nowadays, Cancer is probably the global incidence disease which is the most widespread, the most varied, still constantly rising and that can affect all levels and social classes of the population. Its treatment and care of patients suffering from this disease made it undoubtedly a crucial medical and scientific challenge, but also and above all, a major political, economical and social challenge for the coming years. Since its early detection often leads to a positive prognostic for the future of the patient, numerous methods are currently being developed to make easier its screening and improve its treatment. Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is one of the best techniques used to diagnose and bring out the presence of tumor cells, but also to study enzymatic activities within them, allowing therefore the prescription of a more adequate treatment and better tailored to each individual patient. That’s in this spirit that a novel specific radiotracer of the human indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase enzyme (hIDO) has been developed during this PhD thesis. This enzyme, highly expressed in numerous human tumors, is also currently subject to the development of various inhibitors. This report presents the development of N1-(2-[18F]fluoroethyl)-L-tryptophan (1-[18F]FE-L-Trp), a novel PET radiotracer derived from L-tryptophan and bearing a radioactive atom of fluorine-18 ([18F]F). This “story” starts with the synthesis of this compound and its selection as a specific substrate of hIDO among several potential candidates, and continues until its in vivo PET imaging on mice, while including also its enantiomerically pure and automated radiosynthesis, and numerous in vitro enzymatic and cellular assays, demonstrating the properties and the characteristics (specificity and selectivity) of this radiotracer with respect to hIDO. According to this study, in vitro cellular uptake have demonstrated that 1-[18F]FE-L-Trp is a radiotracer of choice to facilitate the development and the preclinical validation of novel potential inhibitors of hIDO (e.g. 1-methyl-L-tryptophan). Additionally, some in vivo PET imaging on mice bearing one tumor in each flank have shown that this radiotracer allows the in vivo detection of tumors expressing this enzyme. Nevertheless, in the conditions tested until now, only very small preferential uptake was observed with this radiotracer, in hIDO expressing tumors as compared to hTDO and control tumors. As a result, this radiotracer cannot be yet considered as a PET contrast agent in this animal model. Therefore, further additional investigation will be required to understand and characterize this animal model, to improve these in vivo results, and finally reach this objective. However, this PhD research constitutes the first step towards the preclinical development of radiopharmaceutical compounds allowing the molecular cancer imaging through the intermediary of hIDO enzyme. [less ▲]

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See detailFirst come first served: “priority effect“ benefits Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. more than other ruderal Asteraceae species
Ortmans, William ULg; Mahy, Grégory ULg; Monty, Arnaud ULg

Poster (2016, September 14)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. (common ragweed, Asteraceae) is an invasive weed causing a health crisis in Europe, due to its highly allergenic pollen. In Western Europe the invaded range covers most of ... [more ▼]

Ambrosia artemisiifolia L. (common ragweed, Asteraceae) is an invasive weed causing a health crisis in Europe, due to its highly allergenic pollen. In Western Europe the invaded range covers most of central and southern France, and northern Italy. Northwards beyond the edge of this range, occurrence of casual population have been described for years, but these populations do not appear to become invasive, and the species does not seem to spread. This situation raises the following question: Has the invaded range reached a limit or will the species continue its invasion northwards? To answer this question, we followed two complementary approaches. First we set up an experimental garden in Belgium, 250 km north to the current invaded range, to see if the local climate allows the completion of the species reproduction cycle. Second, we performed an in situ measurement campaign in 12 population located beyond the edge, within the range but near the margin, and in the center of the invaded range. The aim of this campaign was to test whether the species had reduced plant performance towards range margins. The results showed that the species is able to establish populations with high growth rates in Belgium. Furthermore, the species expressed similar performance across the considered areas, even beyond the current invasion front. No evidence of processes constraining the invasion was found, which suggests a great potential for invasion north to the current invaded range. In this uncertain situation, awareness actions should be considered in the northern countries. [less ▲]

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See detailMethods and models for brain connectivity assessment across levels of consciousness
Amico, Enrico ULg

Doctoral thesis (2016)

The human brain is one of the most complex and fascinating systems in nature. In the last decades, two events have boosted the investigation of its functional and structural properties. Firstly, the ... [more ▼]

The human brain is one of the most complex and fascinating systems in nature. In the last decades, two events have boosted the investigation of its functional and structural properties. Firstly, the emergence of novel noninvasive neuroimaging modalities, which helped improving the spatial and temporal resolution of the data collected from in vivo human brains. Secondly, the development of advanced mathematical tools in network science and graph theory, which has recently translated into modeling the human brain as a network, giving rise to the area of research so called Brain Connectivity or Connectomics. In brain network models, nodes correspond to gray-matter regions (based on functional or structural, atlas-based parcellations that constitute a partition), while links or edges correspond either to structural connections as modeled based on white matter fiber-tracts or to the functional coupling between brain regions by computing statistical dependencies between measured brain activity from different nodes. Indeed, the network approach for studying the brain has several advantages: 1) it eases the study of collective behaviors and interactions between regions; 2) allows to map and study quantitative properties of its anatomical pathways; 3) gives measures to quantify integration and segregation of information processes in the brain, and the flow (i.e. the interacting dynamics) between different cortical and sub-cortical regions. The main contribution of my PhD work was indeed to develop and implement new models and methods for brain connectivity assessment in the human brain, having as primary application the analysis of neuroimaging data coming from subjects at different levels of consciousness. I have here applied these methods to investigate changes in levels of consciousness, from normal wakefulness (healthy human brains) or drug-induced unconsciousness (i.e. anesthesia) to pathological (i.e. patients with disorders of consciousness). [less ▲]

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