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BrainMap: Imaging and Stimulating Adaptive Brain Plasticity

July 15 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Heidi Johansen-Berg, Ph.D., Director of the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, FMRIB, University of Oxford


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, transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) to the motor cortex 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 plasticity.


Heidi Johansen-Berg is a Wellcome Principal Research Fellow and Director of the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging (WIN), based at FMRIB at the University of Oxford. The WIN aims to exploit the ability of non-invasive neuroimaging to bridge the gap between laboratory neuroscience and human health. Heidi’s own research group investigates plasticity and recovery in the sensorimotor system, with particular focus on white matter plasticity. The group’s research uses a variety of neuroimaging and stimulation tools in healthy human volunteers across the lifespan, individuals with brain damage, and rodents.

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Heidi Johansen-Berg, Ph.D., Director of the Wellcome Centre for Integrative Neuroimaging, FMRIB, University of Oxford


July 15
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Event Category:


Chiara Maffei
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