Uncategorized

Fumiko Hoeft Receives Eye-to-Eye Academic Excellence Award

Fumiko Hoeft, MD, PhD recently received an award from nonprofit organization Eye-to-Eye for her work with Stephanie Haft: Impact of mentoring on socio‐emotional and mental health outcomes of youth with learning disabilities and attention‐deficit hyperactivity disorder. The paper can be accessed here.

To learn more about Eye-to-Eye and their mission, visit their website.

Tour the Brain: BIRC at the International Dyslexia Association 2018 Annual Conference

 

The BIRC is thrilled to announce its first community outreach event. UConn BIRC is partnering with the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and Neuroscape to host a virtual reality tour of the brain. Join us in making neuroscience fun and accessible to the public!

The VR tours will take place at the IDA Massachusetts and Connecticut booth located in the exhibit hall at Foxwoods Resort and Casino  October 24th through 26th.

For additional information, including registration, please visit IDA’s website.

 

Talk: Functional MRI Studies of Memory and Navigation

Chantal Stern, D.Phil

Boston University, Psychological and Brain Sciences

Wednesday, September 19 2018 3:30-4:30PM in BOUS A106

Biography:

Stern is an expert in human brain imaging and was a member of the research team that pioneered the development of functional magnetic resonance imaging, including early work focusing on the human hippocampus. Her lab’s primary goal is to study how the normal brain encodes, stores, and subsequently recognizes visual, spatial, and verbal information. In addition to studies of normal memory processes, including long-term and short-term memory processes, Stern and her team are studying basic science questions that include understanding spatial navigation, rule-learning, and interactions between memory and attention. Her translational work focuses on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Thanks to a $1.6 million National Science Foundation instrumentation grant that Stern secured in 2016, her center showcases a Siemens 3 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging scanner—a fundamental tool for studying the human brain. (Biography courtesy of www.bu.edu)

Vistors from UCHC are encourage to use the UCHC-Storrs shuttle service. Talks can also be joined remotely. Please contact us if you are interested in meeting with the speaker.

Talk: Neuroimaging Markers of Cognitive Reserve and Brain Aging

Lihong Wang PhD
UCONN Health, Dept of Psychiatry
Wednesday September 5, 2018 1:30-2:30pm in Arjona 307

Abstract

Our brain can reorganize its function and neural resources to counteract neural damages. The ability of reorganization of brain function depends on cognitive reserve capacity. To examine dynamic changes of cognitive reserve over time, we developed a new measure for evaluating neural compensatory capacity, a core factor of cognitive reserve, using independent component analysis and a cognitively very challenging task in older adults. Interestingly, we find higher neural compensatory capacity to be related to working memory function. In another study, we show a one-month physical exercise training to improve working memory as well as neural compensatory capacity through activating addition neural networks, i.e., the cerebellar and motor cortex. We believe the new measure on neural compensatory capacity can be applied to broad lines of research on neuroplasticity. Other imaging markers related to brain aging and cognitive decline will also be discussed.

Speaker

Dr. Wang obtained her Ph.D. degree in neurology from Japan and has six years of experience as a neurologist in China. She has performed neuroimaging-related research in depression at Duke University for over 12 years, primarily focused on geriatric depression and cognitive neuroscience. Her recent research centers on neural signatures of depression vulnerability and neural plasticity in patients with late-life depression and mild cognitive decline.

Vistors from UCHC are encourage to use the UCHC-Storrs shuttle service. Talks can also be joined remotely. Please contact us if you are interested in meeting with the speaker.

Download and post a flyer in your area.

Introducing the new Scientific Director (August 2018)

The BIRC is delighted to welcome our new Scientific Director: Dr. Fumiko Hoeft, M.D./ Ph.D. She is a cognitive neuroscientist, with theoretical interests in the neurobiological mechanisms underlying individual differences in brain maturational processes and the acquisition of skills such as reading (and dyslexia). She will be leading the BIRC, and joining the Department of Psychological Sciences. She brings an impressive track record of externally-funded research and development, and a dynamic vision for the future of BIRC.  Welcome, Dr. Hoeft!

Talk: Stephen Wilson 4/4 3:30

Stephen Wilson, PhD
Vanderbilt

Wednesday, April 4, 2018
3:30-5:00pm
BOUS A106

Imaging the language network: functional neuroanatomy, acquired aphasia, and recovery

What is the functional architecture of the language network? How is it impacted by damage to its various nodes and connections? And when it is damaged, how can it reorganize to support recovery of language function? To address these questions, we have carried out a series of multimodal neuroimaging studies in individuals with acquired language deficits of diverse etiologies–stroke, neurodegenerative disease, and resective surgery–as well as neurologically normal volunteers. Our findings, along with those of others, reveal a complex, variegated language network in which numerous distinct regions and tracts in the temporal, frontal and parietal lobes play distinct functional roles. Yet the network is strikingly resilient to most patterns of damage, indicating that in many cases, functional specialization is graded rather than absolute. Our findings suggest that recovery from aphasia depends primarily on reconfiguration of spared language regions, rather than macroscopic reorganization of the whole system.

Talk: Evelina Fedorenko 3/28 3:30pm

Evelina Fedorenko, PhD
Assistant Professor
Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital

Wednesday March 28, 2018
3:30-5:00pm, BOUS A106

The cognitive and neural architecture of the human language system

Brain regions that support high-level language processing are strikingly selective. This selectivity rules out a few prominent hypotheses — e.g., that left frontal lobe structures support language via domain-general executive processes, or that language relies on an abstract syntactic processing mechanism shared by other domains — but leaves open the nature of the exact computations that the language system supports. I will discuss three lines of work that, in tandem, suggest that the language network is fundamentally concerned with meaning, including both the processing of individual word meanings and semantic composition.
First, both lexical and combinatorial processing elicit robust responses throughout the fronto-temporal language network (e.g., Fedorenko et al., 2010; Blank et al., 2016). Further, some language regions show stronger responses to lexico-semantic processing and represent lexico-semantic information more robustly than structural information (Fedorenko et al., 2012), but no regions show the opposite pattern. In recent work (Mollica et al., in prep.), we further found that stimuli that are not well-formed but interpretable elicit as strong a response as intact sentences, in line with current sentence comprehension models whereby our interpretation mechanisms are robust to signal corruption (e.g., Levy et al., 2009; Gibson et al., 2013).
Second, intracranial recordings from the surface of the human brain show that neural activity, indexed by gamma power, increases monotonically over the course of a sentence across the language system (Fedorenko et al., 2016). Having ruled out a number of alternative explanations of this effect in terms of generic attention, working memory, and cognitive load, we argue that the most likely explanation is that this response increase reflects the increasing complexity of the evolving representation of the sentence meaning and is thus a candidate neural marker of complex meaning construction.
And third, we have recently developed a new approach for decoding linguistic meanings from the brain (Pereira et al., in press), based on a procedure for broadly sampling a semantic space constructed from massive text corpora. After the system was trained on imaging data of individual concepts, it could decode sentences from a wide variety of topics. These decoded representations were sufficiently detailed to distinguish even semantically similar sentences. Thus, we established the viability of using distributed semantic representations to probe meaning representations in the brain, laying a foundation for future development and evaluation of precise hypotheses about how concepts are represented and combined.
We encourage members of our MRI community, including students, to schedule a meeting; please email Inge-marie.eigsti@uconn.edu with your availability.

New England Research on Dyslexia Society Meeting October 21

The 3rd meeting of the New England Research on Dyslexia Society will be held in Storrs, CT on October 21, 2017. The meeting will take place on the University of Connecticut campus in Oak Hall.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER: John Gabrieli, Ph.D, Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT

“Dyslexia: From Neurophysiology to Intervention”

The New England Research Group on Dyslexia is an interdisciplinary community of researchers, educators, clinicians, and policy experts, whose work aims at elucidating the biological, including psychological, and social underpinnings of Developmental Dyslexia and related disorders with the objective of improving prevention, early detection, diagnosis, treatment/intervention and social support (including legal, political, and public health) associated with this learning disability.

For more information and to register, visit: http://ibacs.uconn.edu/nerdy/