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Developing tailored interventions for stroke rehabilitation: improving motor function by targeting brain connectivity with fMRI neurofeedback


College of Medicine, Veterinary and Life Sciences

About the Project

Supervisors:
Dr Cassandra Sampaio Baptista
Dr Monika Harvey
Prof Gregor Thut

Project summary:
Stroke is a common neurological disorder and one of the leading causes of long-term adult disability. There is a fundamental need to develop adjunct rehabilitation approaches to enhance motor recovery. Neurofeedback is an emergent closed-loop technique that allows participants to endogenously modulate their brain activity or connectivity by measuring it and displaying it in real-time. This can potentially be used to alter abnormal brain activity into more beneficial patterns in stroke patients. Neurofeedback is a flexible tool that can be used to specifically target cortical and subcortical structures and directionally modulate brain signals, opening up the possibility of tailoring the intervention to the needs and impairment level of the patient. Brain connectivity studies have shown that disconnection within the brain motor network is associated with poorer movement outcomes in stroke patients. Therefore, increasing connectivity within the brain motor network may be a useful approach in stroke rehabilitation. Similarly, ageing is associated with reduced connectivity within the motor network and declines in movement performance. Neurofeedback presents an unprecedented opportunity to non-invasively modulate brain connectivity and directly assess effects on motor performance. This PhD project will examine whether older adults and stroke survivors are able to use fMRI neurofeedback at rest, without performing any movements, to alter motor network connectivity and improve motor outcomes. Neurofeedback allows to tailor the target brain connectivity to the individual and to progressively customize the goal for each participant and training session. The effectiveness of this approach will be assessed with behavioural tasks and clinical scores. We will additionally test which markers (behavioural, MRI and EEG) best predict neurofeedback performance and behavioural/clinical outcomes. This will inform future applications on participant stratification and tailored neurofeedback protocols.

This MRC programme is joint between the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. You will be registered at the host institution of the primary supervisor detailed in your project selection.

All applications should be made via the University of Edinburgh, irrespective of project location via the link below.

http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/postgraduate/degrees/index.php?r=site/view&id=919

Please note, you must apply to one of the projects and you must contact the primary supervisor prior to making your application. Additional information on the application process is available from the link above.

For more information about Precision Medicine and what is required when submitting an application, please visit:
https://www.gla.ac.uk/colleges/mvls/graduateschool/mrcdtpprecisionmedicine/


Funding Notes

Start: September 2021

Qualifications criteria: Applicants applying for an MRC DTP in Precision Medicine studentship must have obtained, or will soon obtain, a first or upper-second class UK honours degree or equivalent non-UK qualification, in an appropriate science/technology area. The MRC DTP in Precision Medicine grant provides tuition fees and stipend of at least £15,285 (UKRI rate 2020/21).

Full eligibility details are available: View Website

Enquiries regarding programme:

References




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