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Neuroimaging Research

The Neuropsychology program has been involved in neuroimaging research since the Health Sciences Center first obtained a PET scanner and cyclotron in 1996. As the Center for Advanced Imaging at WVU grew and added a GE 3T magnetic resonance machine, our program grew and added faculty with neuroimaging experience. Currently we use a variety of imaging techniques to study brain function and structure. We incorporate measure of brain function obtained outside the scanners, with information obtained from scanning. We use O15 water PET and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study how the brain functions in both normal individuals and a variety of patient conditions. For example, we use fMRI to map out different brain functions (e.g. motor, sensory and language) prior to receiving neurosurgery. This information is used by the surgeon to guide surgical approach and resection to maximize outcome while minimizing changes in function. We also use structural imaging techniques, such as measuring brain grey matter volume to study normal and abnormal aging. Newer techniques, such as Diffusion Tensor Imaging, are used to measure the health of the white matter in the brain. These structural techniques are used both to study the normal brain and changes in the brain that occur in disease.  We study all ranges of age, from children and adolescents to older adults.

Customized cortical stimulation therapy in the rehabilitation of stroke patients. NIH funded 1R01NS090677-0,1 09/15-8/19

PI: Buetefisch (Emory University)
Co-I: Marc Haut, PhD

While there is evidence that reorganization in the motor cortex of the hemisphere contralateral to the stroke (contralesional M1) will impact motor function of the paretic limb in the acute and chronic phase post-stroke, the extent and the precise events that specifically influence it and how it relates to recovery of motor function remain to be defined. A better understanding of contralesional M1 reorganization is critical to the future development of optimal therapeutic strategies such as non-invasive stimulation protocols to improve functional recovery following stroke. The objectives in this application are to define the factors that influence contralesional M1 reorganization, determine the extent of contralesional M1 reorganization and its role in motor recovery in the acute and chronic post-stroke period. In a longitudinal study of stroke patients, contralesional M1 reorganization and stimulation will be assessed in two Specific Aims. In the first Specific Aim, we will determine the extent of functional and structural contralesional M1 reorganization using complementary techniques of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), functional and structural MRI of the brain and behavioral measures. In the second Specific Aim, the contribution of contralesional M1 reorganization to the recovery of motor function will be studied. We will explore biomarkers that can determine the role contralesional M1 has in the recovery process.

Image shows two side by side brain scan comparisons.
Measuring the integrity of the coritcospinal tract after stroke using DTI

Ongoing Neuroimaging Research in the Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry

Current neuroimaging research focuses on brain plasticity using measures of cortical thickness and white matter integrity (DTI). Dr. Haut has the following projects:

Utilizing a mobile PET scanner to predict outcome from ECT in Major Depression. Collaborator Julie Brefczynski-Lewis, PhD, Department of Physiology & Pharmacology, WVU.

Motor cortex plasticity measured by cortical thickness and DTI after treatment with rTMS after stroke. Collaborator Cathrin Buetefisch, MD, PhD, Departments of Neurology, Rehabilitation Medicine, and Radiology, Emory University School of Medicine.

Brain plasticity measured by cortical thickness and DTI after mindful meditation training in substance abusers. Collaborator, Laura Lander, MSW, LICSW, Department of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry, WVU.

Utilizing DTI to predict outcome from neonatal hypoxic ischemic injury. Collaborator, Paola Pergami, MD, PhD, Departments of Pediatrics and Neurology, WVU.