The goal of this project is to better characterize functional brain organization and associated neuropsychological functioning before brain damage, and then follow how brain plasticity and cognition change during recovery from focal damage. Advances in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological patients depend critically on a better understanding of neural plasticity and recovery of function following focal brain damage. Recent advances in neuroimaging have allowed scientists to study intrinsic functional patterns of activity between brain areas (so-called "resting-state networks"), and observe regions with correlated activity (so-called "functional connectivity") between areas known to be involved in higher cognitive functions. The goal of this project is use these neuroimaging methods on a rare sample of surgical resection patients that will allow us to carefully assess brain networks and higher cognitive functions (e.g. language, emotion) preceding and following the creation of an anatomically circumscribed lesion. This proposal will allow us to better understand how removal of a focal brain area may impact the function of remote, undamaged brain regions, as well as how such changes might affect cognitive functioning. Additionally, improving our understanding of the changes in brain networks and behavior that occur during recovery may help to optimize rehabilitation interventions. Specifically, we hypothesize that when comparing the preoperative baseline and acute postoperative periods, network connectivity will decline for language and emotion networks that have been partially resected. Furthermore, we expect increases in network connectivity between the acute and chronic postoperative periods. Remote networks, not including the resected regions (e.g. visual sensory networks) will be unaffected.
The second aim of this proposal involves careful assessment of clinical and experimental neuropsychological measures collected during the same three epochs (i.e., preoperative, acute post-op., and chronic post-op.), and will relate cognitive changes in language and emotion behavior to connectivity changes in language and emotion networks. It is hypothesized that higher baseline network connectivity within language and emotion networks will predict greater acute postoperative declines in language and emotion measures, while greater increases in network connectivity between acute and chronic postoperative epochs will predict greater improvement in language and emotion measures of the same time period. These studies will significantly contribute to our knowledge of plasticity and recovery processes, and will influence cognitive rehabilitation approaches for patients with multiple classes of neurological disorders or disease.
Precise understanding of how brain organization changes following damage, and how this relates to what we see in behavior is critical if we are to develop and use rehabilitation interventions effectively. The goal of this project is to examine intrinsic neural organization (brain networks) and behavior before and after focal damage, by studying a special population of patients with epilepsy undergoing surgical resection. Better understanding of plasticity and recovery of function from a brain network perspective has the ability to inform rehabilitation approaches for patients recovering from multiple classes of brain injury, and drive development of novel interventions.
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