Movement is a very complex process, with subtle coordination and timing of different parts of the body. As part of our work, we are interested in understanding how the brain coordinates such complex movements, such as gait and walking. We use both a gait laboratory and multi-limb motion sensors to instantaneously record and stream movement details with synchronized neural signals. This data helps us to perform high temporal resolution comparisons between brain activity and movement. This research aims to understand “what goes wrong” in disease and identify brain regions, signals, or events that can be targeted for therapy.
One of the core tenets of our lab is that the brain is a network – and that both disease and therapies affect networks. Therefore, we harness the power of advanced imaging to study these networks. Diffusion tractography is a non-invasive method of analyzing structural brain networks. Different parts of the brain are connected with white matter – which are essentially bundles of wires that interconnect the brain. Because water tends to move in the same direction as those “wires”, we can use a special MRI technique called diffusion imaging to measure that water movement. Those images can then be analyzed to identify structural connections between different parts of the brain. We have used these advanced imaging techniques to develop new ways of targeting brain stimulation, to understand the underlying cause of various symptoms within a disease, and to understand why some people respond to some therapies while others do not.