Funded Awards

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Title Investigator Institute Fiscal Year FOA Number Status Project Number Priority Area Summary
Causal mapping of emotion networks with concurrent electrical stimulation and fMRI Adolphs, Ralph (contact) Howard, Matthew A. Poldrack, Russell A California Institute Of Technology 2018 Active
  • Human Neuroscience
  • Integrated Approaches
  • Interventional Tools
  • Monitor Neural Activity
Limited treatment options exist for emotional disorders because we do not understand the neural systems by which emotions are processed. Adolphs and colleagues will study how emotion is caused  by activity in brain networks. They will electrically stimulate emotion-related brain regions, such as the amygdala, in awake neurosurgical patients, and use concurrent fMRI to image the whole-brain networks engaged by the stimulated structures. Psychophysiological, behavioral, and self-report measures of emotion will be collected to quantify how the stimulation-induced activation patterns associate with specific components of emotion. This work could inform interventions to treat mood disorders through deep-brain stimulation.
Dynamic Neural Mechanisms of Audiovisual Speech Perception Beauchamp, Michael S (contact) Schroeder, Charles E Baylor College Of Medicine 2019 Active
  • Human Neuroscience
  • Integrated Approaches
  • Interventional Tools
  • Monitor Neural Activity

Speech perception often lies at the heart of our interactions with other people. By nature, it is multisensory, combining auditory information from the voice with visual information from the face. However, there is a large gap in our knowledge about this critical cognitive skill because most experimental techniques available in humans have poor spatiotemporal resolution. In this strategic opportunity to study patients undergoing clinically-indicated brain surgery, Dr. Michael Beauchamp and his team will use intracranial recording (iEEG) in humans to study the neural mechanisms of speech perception. In addition to high-resolution intracranial electrode grids, the group will also leverage non-penetrating electrodes that are safely placed on the cortical surface of the brain. This multi-pronged approach will enable the group to study the organization and operation of the brain during audiovisual speech perception, providing a better understanding of this important human skill.

Intraoperative studies of flexible decision-making Baltuch, Gordon H (contact) Gold, Joshua I University Of Pennsylvania 2017 Active
  • Human Neuroscience
  • Integrated Approaches
  • Interventional Tools
  • Monitor Neural Activity
Even relatively simple sensory-motor decisions, such as goal-directed eye movements, exhibit sufficient flexibility and nuance to be considered a “window on cognition.” Gordon Baltuch’s team will leverage the unique opportunity provided by surgical treatment of Parkinson’s disease using deep brain stimulation, to study decision-making in the human brain at the single-neuron level. The team will simultaneously measure behavioral response time and accuracy (by asking neurosurgical patients to select a visual stimulus via eye movements) while performing brain electrophysiology. Additionally, they will conduct parallel monkey and human studies that, unlike Parkinson’s studies alone, will distinguish normal versus disrupted mechanisms in the Parkinson’s -affected brain. This project may yield a sustainable research program that probes not only neural mechanisms of decision-making, but also potential causes of, and remedies to, cognitive side effects associated with deep brain stimulation.
Neuronal mechanisms of human episodic memory Mamelak, Adam Nathaniel Rutishauser, Ueli (contact) Cedars-sinai Medical Center 2017 Active
  • Human Neuroscience
  • Integrated Approaches
  • Interventional Tools
  • Monitor Neural Activity
No meaningful therapies for memory disorders exist, partially due to a lack of mechanistic knowledge about human memory. Ueli Rutishauser’s multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary team will study how memories of facts and events are formed and used in the human brain. The team will use electrophysiological methods to record single neurons, simultaneously in multiple brain areas, in awake patients who are implanted with electrodes to localize epileptic seizures. This work will combine single-neuron physiology, behavioral testing, electrical stimulation, and computational modeling, to address three questions: (i) how persistent activity supports memory formation, (ii) what mechanisms translate memories into decisions and judgments, and (iii) how memories are formed and recalled over time. A circuit-level understanding of memory may enable development of new treatments for memory disorders.
Neurostimulation and Recording of Real World Spatial Navigation in Humans Suthana, Nanthia A University Of California Los Angeles 2017 Active
  • Human Neuroscience
  • Integrated Approaches
  • Interventional Tools
  • Monitor Neural Activity
Spatial memory is thought to involve neurons in the medial temporal lobe that exhibit increased firing rates when an animal is in a specific location during spatial navigation. However, human single-neuron studies have been limited to immobile subjects viewing 2-dimensional navigational tasks. Nanthia Suthana’s team will use intracranial single-neuron and local field potential recordings, combined with deep brain stimulation (DBS), in epilepsy patients performing freely-moving spatial navigation memory tasks using state-of-the-art virtual reality headset technology and full-body motion capture. The team will record from medial temporal lobe subregions, to determine the role of single neurons and oscillations during navigation and memory, and how these neurophysiological mechanisms can be enhanced by deep brain stimulation. This work may yield insights into the neuronal correlates of real-world spatial navigation and memory.
Using Direct Brain Stimulation to Study Cognitive Electrophysiology Kahana, Michael Jacob University Of Pennsylvania 2019 Active
  • Human Neuroscience
  • Integrated Approaches
  • Interventional Tools
  • Monitor Neural Activity

Diseases of memory and cognition are among the most devastating for patients and families, but the complexity of dynamic neural circuits that give rise to cognition creates challenges for effective therapeutic and clinical interventions. Dr. Michael Kahana and his team propose a multi-site, collaborative effort to uncover the neural processes underlying different forms of memory. They aim to use both direct intracranial stimulation and dynamical modeling to definitively identify brain activity that is causally linked to cognition. In a safe and ethically sound recruitment of patients undergoing otherwise therapeutic surgery, the success of this project will inform a theoretical framework for simulating the interaction between direct electrical stimulation and human neurophysiology, as well as insights and specific targets for future cognitive therapies.