Topology, one of the oldest branches of mathematics, captures the concept of shape for spaces of arbitrary type and dimension. This allows to adopt some of its concepts to characterize and compare how the brain activity evolves and restructures itself. In the talk, I will briefly introduce two topological techniques, persistent homology and Mapper, to illustrate what novel insights these new descriptive paradigms yield for the analysis of how the brain works at the functional, structural and genetic level. As case studies, I will show how psychedelic drugs alter the shape of the landscape of brain activity leading to a radical reorganization of the hierarchies of functional circuits. I will also compare these results with results on functional equivalence in simple imagery tasks, and with other altered states, for example in treated and untreated bipolar subjects. Finally, using brain gene expression data, I will briefly describe recent work on the construction of a topological genetic skeleton highlighting differences in structure and function of different genetic pathways within the brain.
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