(SNI Jr. Faculty Candidate)
Abstract: Fluctuations in spontaneous brain activity observed non-invasively with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) offer a powerful window into the functional organization of the human brain in health and disease. These signals, typically measured without engaging the subject in a task, are now extensively used for studying large-scale brain networks and their modulation with development, aging, conscious states, and psychiatric disorders. Despite the promise and growing popularity of this technique, the field faces methodological challenges as well as a limited understanding of the neural origins of the observed effects. I will discuss studies directed toward advancing both the interpretation of, and information derived from, the spontaneous fMRI signal. First, I will describe time-varying interactions between brain regions in the resting (task-free) state, and investigations into the neural basis of these dynamics using concurrent EEG and physiological recordings. Second, I will discuss methods for reducing noise arising from non-neural physiological processes. Third, I will present ongoing research into the neurophysiological basis and causal mechanisms of the spontaneous fMRI signal using data from the awake macaque. In these ways, we aim to establish necessary foundations through which spontaneous fMRI signals can further illuminate the systems-level underpinnings of brain function as well as complex disorders such as depression and Alzheimer’s disease.A light lunch will be provided.