Integrating multimodal functional neuroimaging with experimental and computational neuroscience to address impairments associated with treatment
All forms of cancer and its treatments cause cellular changes in the brain and have neurotoxic effects. Therefore, adult survivors of pediatric cancer and its treatment often experience an array of cognitive deficits, which may include problems with learning, attention, memory, sleep, and sensory and perceptual functions. The goals of our lab are to understand the brain and neuroplastic changes in cancer and its treatment and to devise new intervention methods to improve cognition and address some of the impairments and deficits cancer treatments cause.
Cancer and its various treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation, affect the brain, its structure and its function. The impact of the disease and the treatments often lead to cognitive deficits and challenges in adult pediatric cancer survivors. Our lab employs neuroscience and biomedical engineering approaches to unravel the cognitive impacts of cancer treatment.
To this end, the research in our lab is driven by three main objectives. First, we aim to integrate multimodal functional brain imaging with experimental and computational neuroscience techniques. Through this approach, we strive to understand and characterize the neuroplastic changes in brain function and network dynamics caused by pediatric cancer and its treatments.
Second, we strive to innovate and apply novel neuromodulation and neurostimulation approaches to reduce and reverse the adverse effects of cancer treatment to improve patients’ cognitive function. This line of investigation relies heavily on applying multimodal functional brain imaging, which requires highly sophisticated imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), functional near-infrared spectroscopy, electro/magnetoencephalography and brain stimulation combined with novel experimental paradigms. Our lab also uses neuromodulation, neurostimulation, and transcranial stimulation techniques alone or in combination with imaging to target those regions and networks of the brain suffering impairment from cancer treatment.
Third, our lab devises new intervention methods to improve cognition and address some of the impairments and deficits cancer treatments cause to the brain. We use computational neuroscience techniques and artificial intelligence methods — including functional and effective connectivity, causality modeling, brain-computer interfaces, and neurofeedback — as the primary tools for our scientific investigation and our efforts to develop translational interventions.
Our lab also collaborates with other St. Jude investigators and researchers worldwide on various projects, including an initiative using functional imaging and functional spectroscopy to explore cognitive deficits in pediatric sickle cell disease and neuromodulatory interventions for treatment and mitigation. In addition, our team is collaborating on medulloblastoma neuroimaging analysis, multimodal imaging-based brain tissue abnormality maps and the analyses of various datasets.
All our efforts aim to provide insights that will help address the cognitive impacts associated with cancer treatment to improve quality of life for patients.