Those Bloody Brains
We can watch our brains order our bodies around. As we go about our business, blood flows to the active parts of our brains. Changes in blood flow are indirect measures of changes in the activity of neurons, and can be tracked with various non-invasive techniques.
Dr. Amir Shmuel’s research has two goals. First, he is decoding the brain’s imaging signals (the way it sends and receives electrical signals) and how these signals reflect the underlying activity of neurons. Second, he is working out how the brain analyzes visual information, so that it can make sense of what our eyes see.
To this end, as the Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience and Brain Imaging, Shmuel combines imaging and electrical recording techniques, which together cover both space and time. In the lab an eye is exposed to different types of visual stimuli. Meanwhile, large-scale, non-invasive imaging methods provide brain activity signals, which are then compared to the activity of neurons.
A better understanding of how blood flows in the brain will help physicians diagnose patients and monitor psychiatric and neurological disorders. The better we understand how neuronal activities are connected to blood flow, the more correctly we can interpret these imaging signals.