Neuroanatomical dualism: morphological plasticity and stability


The aim of this project is to map normal morphological covariation across the human brain and discover population level patterns of developmental and life-course phenotypic stability and plasticity. We will then determine how and where these patterns are disrupted in aberrant ageing and disease.

The human brain is plastic, changing size and shape. Changes are coordinated and stabilised across brain regions by shared developmental constraints, interconnectivity, functional and physiological integration as well as spatial interdependencies. Whilst complex and labile, the emergent effect parsimoniously produces a brain that is both fit for purpose and flexible within certain tolerances, which enables adaptation.  The cost, however, is a brain that is also more prone to the cascading effects of discordant and stochastic perturbations. We will use biobank MRI data and advanced computational methods (volumetrics, voxel-based morphometry and geometric morphometrics) to capture and analyse neuroanatomical disparity across a large control sample. Data for patients at various stages of degenerative disease will also be added to this population level framework to discover the location and nature of discordant covariations.




Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Self-funded project

Self-funded or externally sponsored students only.

UK applicants can apply for a Doctoral Training Loan



Jeffery, N. S., Humphreys, C., & Manson, A. (2022). A human craniofacial life‐course: Cross‐sectional morphological covariations during postnatal growth, adolescence, and aging. The Anatomical Record, 305(1), 81-99.

Jeffery, N. S., Sarver, D. C., & Mendias, C. L. (2021). Ontogenetic and in silico models of spatial‐packing in the hypermuscular mouse skull. Journal of Anatomy, 238(6), 1284-1295.