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Heidi Johansen-Berg will be the speaker at the CRICBristol Lecture, 2nd Dec 2014.

24 October 2014

Heidi Johansen-Berg will be the speaker at the 2014 CRICBristol Lecture, taking place on Tues 2nd Dec 2014 at 1pm

Venue: Frank Theatre in the Physics Building. 


Heidi Johansen-Berg is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience and Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow at the FMRIB Centre, Nuffield Department of
Clinical Neurosciences, University of Oxford. She heads the Plasticity Group, a multi-disciplinary team of scientists with an interest in how the
brain changes with learning, experience or recovery of function following damage.  Heidi Johansen-Berg¹s group use a variety of neuroimaging and brain stimulation approaches to study plasticity, predominantly in the motor system.

Imaging and stimulating adaptive brain plasticity

Animal studies show that the adult brain shows remarkable plasticity in
response to learning or recovery from injury. Non-invasive brain imaging
techniques can be used to detect systems-level structural and functional
plasticity in the human brain. This talk will focus on how brain imaging
has allowed us to monitor healthy brains learning new motor skills, to
assess how brains recover after damage, such as stroke, and how they adapt
to change, such as limb amputation.

Although imaging is useful to detect such adaptations, many brain imaging
measures are non-specific and do not allow us to pinpoint the underlying
cellular changes that are driving observed effects. The talk will also
discuss studies in animal models in which both imaging and histological
approaches can be used to shed light on the underlying biological drivers
for structural plasticity detected using MRI.

Finally, the talk will discuss how brain stimulation can be used to
manipulate brain remodelling.  For example, using transcranial direct
current stimulation (tDCS) to the motor cortex we can speed people¹s
learning of a new task, alter their brain chemistry, or improve function
in stroke patients. FMRI identifies changes in cortical activity that may
mediate these functional benefits. In future, imaging could be used to
guide individually targeted brain stimulation to enhance adaptive brain

1.      Sampaio-Baptista et al. Motor skill learning induces changes in white
matter microstructure and myelination. J Neurosci, 33. 19499-503. 2013.
2.      Makin T et al. Deprivation-related and use-dependent plasticity go hand
in hand. e-Life. 2013, e01273
3.      O'Shea  et al. Predicting behavioural response to TDCS in chronic motor
stroke. Neuroimage. 85. 924-33.
4.      Stagg CJ et al. Cortical activation changes underlying
stimulation-induced behavioural gains in chronic stroke. Brain. 135;
276-84. 2012

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