Join us in congratulating the recipients of the 2023-2024 MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Research Fellowships.
MnDRIVE Neuromodulation Research Fellowships
Evaluating precision functional mapping for improved clinical efficacy of real-time transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
Zachary Haigh, Department of Biomedical Engineering
Mentor: Alexander Opitz, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Engineering
Stroke affects about 795,000 people in the United States each year which is approximately 2.7% of the United States population. In Minnesota, more than 5% of all deaths are caused by a stroke. Zachary Haigh's functional mapping research will reveal precise targeting methods for transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) based on functional MRI (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). His research will allow for accurate targeting of specific functional networks during therapeutic use of TMS and will improve the efficacy of therapeutic TMS for a variety of stroke-related symptoms including motor, speech, and cognitive deficits.
Pharmacological enhancement of optogenetic neuromodulation to correct substance use disorder-related dysfunction of striatal neurocircuitry
Filip Hanak, Department of Neuroscience
Mentor: Patrick Rothwell, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Substance misuse is an especially prevalent problem in Minnesota, where 13.66% of all deaths
from 2008 to 2017 were caused by drugs or alcohol. Filip Hanak’s preclinical research on pharmacological enhancement of neuromodulation in the Nucleus Accumbens will lead to improved treatments for patients suffering from substance use disorders. In addition to clinical applications, the proposed research will result in fundamental science discoveries about neural circuitry in the Nucleus Accumbens.
Interrogating the synaptic mechanisms of deep brain stimulation with single-synapse resolution during motor behavior
Jacob Gable, Department of Neuroscience
Mentor: Aaron Kerlin, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Thalamic deep brain stimulation (DBS) is a therapy that can effectively treat a range of brain disorders, although there are still challenges with long-term treatment efficacy and side-effects. Jacob Gable's project will explore the development of new methods to characterize how thalamic DBS directly influences neurotransmitter release at thalamocortical synapses during motor behavior. Understanding the synaptic mechanisms of thalamic DBS may inform the development of improved treatments and quality of life for individuals that are afflicted by a range of brain disorders as well as advance the next generation of neuromodulation technology.
Neural mechanisms of closed-loop phase-locked transcranial magnetic stimulation
Güldamla Kalender, Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD)
Mentor: Alik Widge, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Approximately 226,000 adults have a serious mental illness in Minnesota, and major depressive disorder (MDD) remains one of the leading causes of disability with a rising diagnosis rate (8-10). Aside from representing a significant mental health problem, MDD leads to a growing economic burden in Minnesota, estimated at $3.8 billion in 2018. Güldamla Kalender's research aims to develop a personalized transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) protocol that delivers stimulation timed to a certain phase of an endogenous brain rhythm and explores the utility of physiologically informed neuromodulation in psychiatric disorders. Carrying this phase-dependent approach into TMS for neuropsychiatric disorders may enhance the TMS-induced neuroplasticity and lead to the optimization of its therapeutic effects, which would be beneficial both in developing a theoretical understanding of clinically relevant neuroplasticity and in providing direction for clinicians to maximize the benefit of neuromodulation techniques.
Neural mechanisms of impaired axial muscle coupling during turns in people with Parkinson’s disease and freezing of gait
Callen Maupin, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences
Mentor: Colum MacKinnon, Ph.D., Department of Neurology
Minnesota has a larger than average population of people living with Parkinson’s Disease (13,400 currently, greater than 28 other US states). As of 2020, this population is at a high risk of experiencing a fall due to postural instability, gait disturbances and freezing of gait, which can often lead to further severe injury including hip fractures, traumatic brain injuries, prolonged loss of functional mobility, and even death. Falls also contribute significantly to the $61 billion spent in healthcare in Minnesota annually. Callen Maupin's project will lead to an increased understanding of the neural mechanisms contributing to impaired turning. The findings from these experiments can be translated into new approaches to improve trunk muscle control, such as physical therapy interventions that target axial muscles and the sequencing of leg and trunk coupling during turns, or the use of novel vestibular training interventions to improve the modulation of vestibulospinal pathways.
Multi-method identification of neural correlates of symptom improvement in combined transcranial direct current stimulation-mindful breathing treatment for depressed adolescents
Marvin Yan, Department of Psychology
Mentor: Kathryn Cullen, M.D., Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Depression is a prevalent mental health disorder in the United States, especially among adolescents and college-aged young adults. The prevalence of depression in Minnesota is consistently higher than that of other states. Of particular concern, adolescent depression is 50% higher in Minnesota when compared to the national average, and depression is the second most common mental health diagnosis among the student population at the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. Marvin Yan’s research will leverage brain imaging and neuromodulation technology to elucidate neurobiological correlates of suicide risk and depression. His project will identify patterns of neural activity that are associated with the reduction of depressive symptoms in those that received active vs. sham tDCS in addition to mindful breathing training. His research will test whether a novel data analytic technique that identifies causal connections in the brain provides unique information above and beyond traditional analytic approaches. His research work signifies an initial step towards refining the adaptation of causal discovery analysis for use with neuroimaging and neuromodulation data to make clinically-relevant decisions.The results will help clinicians determine which patients would benefit the most from tDCS as a treatment for depression, expediting the treatment process.
Modulating anxiety by selective disruption of hippocampal sharp waves
Chelsey Damphousse, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Mentor: David Redish, Ph.D., Department of Neuroscience
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common psychiatric illnesses worldwide, causing devastating social and economic impacts. In treating these disorders, benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed despite their association with cognitive decline, dependency, and risk of overdose. According to a recent survey conducted in December 2022 by the National Center for Health Statistics, a quarter of Minnesotans (23.9%) reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety. For those receiving treatment, benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed despite their association with many harmful side effects including memory loss, dependency, and withdrawal. From 2019-2020, the number of deaths from benzodiazepine overdoses in Minnesota increased by 70%, underscoring the dangers of this class of drug. Dr. Damphousse's project aims to examine how anxiety-related events could be disrupted through neuromodulation applied to a specific brain region as these events occur, potentially enabling more selective and efficient treatment options than those currently available. By understanding the neural mechanisms underlying anxiety and targeting these mechanisms for therapeutic intervention, findings from this project may offer an alternative way forward in making treatment of anxiety easier and safer.
Optimizing electrical stimulation to reverse drug re-seeking in rats with chronic morphine exposure
Leah Davis, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Mentor: Alik Widge, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
The Minnesota Department of Health Services identifies opioid addiction as a ‘crisis gripping the state’. Both deaths and number of emergency room visits due to abuse of opioids have spiked within the past several years with the onset of the COVID pandemic. Dr. Davis' project proposes to explore the optimal timing parameters of electrical brain stimulation in rats exposed to morphine, the results of which will have high translatability from rats to humans. Using electrical stimulation to modulate one of the neural pathways implicated in the relapse cycle of addiction may produce results that could be used in clinical electrical deep brain stimulation for treatment resistant addiction.
A multi-modal neuromodulation approach to enhancing speech perception in noise
Yuan He, Ph.D., Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery
Mentor: Hubert Lim, Ph.D., Department of Biomedical Engineering and Otolaryngology
Approximately 38.2 million adults in the United States experience some level of hearing loss and 94.5% of them have mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Only 15-20% of adults with hearing loss proactively seek hearing healthcare (e.g., hearing aids) and often are not satisfied with the current technologies (about 50% satisfaction rate). Dr. He's study focuses on developing techniques and devices that can potentially benefit a large population of hearing-impaired adults in terms of improving their general hearing health and speech perception in noise. By adopting the paired stimulation paradigm successfully demonstrated in animals, Dr. He’s team will be the first to show whether human hearing can benefit from a similar non-invasive paradigm. This study will provide a foundational understanding of principles for the safe and effective use of multimodal neuromodulation in humans. The knowledge gained from this research will shed light on the role of neuroplasticity in auditory rehabilitation and have important implications for neuromodulation-mediated language learning and cognition, tinnitus, and hyperacusis.
State-dependent effects of prefrontal transcranial magnetic stimulation
Aaron McInnes, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Mentor: Alik Widge, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences
Mental illnesses have a significant social and economic impact on the state of Minnesota. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) is a widely used non-invasive neuromodulation therapy for treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders. rTMS for major depressive disorder (MDD) has an efficacy rate of up to 60%, but this leaves 40% of patients undergoing an expensive, time-consuming treatment for little benefit. Dr. McInnes' research aims to explore conditions which enhance the effectiveness of electromagnetic brain stimulation on brain function. He will examine whether the benefits of brain stimulation on mental functioning can be enhanced if patients are actively engaging the target brain networks whilst receiving brain stimulation. This will lead to a better understanding of how brain stimulation improves brain function, as well as provide directions to clinicians regarding how they can better utilize brain stimulation as a more effective and reliable treatment for mental illness.