New research takes a non-invasive look at your brain in action

A collaborative, interdisciplinary project from researchers at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health is making it possible to watch brain stimulation in action.

“The Integrated Neurostimulation Platform for Neuropsychiatric Research project is a pathfinding initiative – our purpose is to demonstrate the potential of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to allow scientists in every field of neuroscience to collaborate on studies of brain function in health and disease,” says Dr. Fidel Vila-Rodriguez, the project’s principal investigator.

The first study under this project will look at predictors of treatment response in individuals with treatment-resistant depression. The study will involve using TMS technology during an MRI scan.

This complicated procedure requires a unique combination of skill and expertise, but the payoff is significant for both the patient and the healthcare system: clinicians will be able to see in real time if TMS will be an effective treatment. As TMS is useful in treating about 50 per cent of patients with treatment-resistant depression, care providers would be better able to predict the value in continuing TMS treatment.

Depression treatment is only one possibility of this integrated platform, however. The platform, through the development of this tool, aims at enabling a unique opportunity for scientists across disciplines to employ non-invasive neurostimulation in human and non-human primate research and patient care.

According to Dr. Vila-Rodriguez, “TMS/fMRI bears the potential to inform research in Schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, mood disorders, and stroke amongst other conditions as well as allow us to understand learning, perception, or neuroplasticity. By building an infrastructure to support this initiative, researchers at DMCBH are poised to pioneer innovation in non-invasive brain research and to attract the best and brightest students and collaborators to DMCBH.”

As part of this new initiative, a new series of monthly rounds will begin on April 23, 2015. Join Dr. Fidel Vila-Rodriguez and Dr. Lara Boyd for the first session at noon in the Rudy North Lecture Theatre, Lower Level, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health.