Project I.4. Core Facility for Functional Magnetic Resonance Research
Objectives/Hypotheses: Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allows studies of the neural correlates of speech and language. The development of sophisticated neuroimaging techniques has allowed researchers to monitor brain activity patterns associated with perception and production of language, both spoken and signed. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) findings suggest that delayed acquisition of language leads to anomalous patterns of brain activity when language is ultimately acquired. As one example, fMRI investigations have documented reorganization of brain activity in adults following treatment for acquired reading disorders consequent to stroke. fMRI performed during a reading task before and after treatment indicated a shift in brain activation from the left angular gyrus to the left lingual gyrus, showing that it is possible to alter brain activity patterns with therapy for acquired language disorders. Continued investigations of normal and disordered language processes using neuroimaging tools will refine our understanding of brain function, improve our ability to identify the underlying causes of language impairment, and to document and refine the efficacy of interventions. Neuroimaging studies have had, and most certainly will continue to have, a profound impact on the study of language and language impairments.
Rationale: The Laboratory for Functional Magnetic Resonance Research ( LfMRR ) houses Canada's highest field (4 Tesla) Magnetic Resonance Imaging / Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (MRI/MRS) scanner. This is used primarily for in-vivo studies of human brain structure and function, including assessment of brain metabolism and physiology, cognitive function and vascular dynamics, not only in normal and research patient populations, but also in in-vitro and animal models using a variety of advanced nuclear magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy techniques. A magnetic field strength of 4 Tesla (4T) is currently the highest field approved for human use. The facility was recently upgraded through the recent CFI award to the UWO Centre for Brain and Mind. It is the only such facility supported by a joint CIHR-NSERC Multi-user maintenance grant, and represents a unique national resource for state-of-the-art evaluation of brain structure and functional activity using a variety of MRI and MRS techniques in a research setting. CLLRnet researchers will have preferred, low-cost access to this unique facility.
Significance and Deliverables: Building on this base, the NCE will establish a core imaging facility that can be collaboratively accessed by members of the network. This core will include dedicated time on the 4 Tesla scanner, access to its engineering staff, training for the analysis staff and a peer-review structure capable of establishing priorities for the imaging research in this field. An upgrade to the facility’s audio presentation system is included in our budget request; otherwise the Lab has the facilities needed to support our NCE research program.
For more information on this project, please contact Ravi Menon (email@example.com.)