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On the Methods, Applications and Allure of Resting-state fMRI

Speaker: Dr David Cole, TNU, University of Zurich.

Functional magnetic resonance images acquired in the absence of overt experimental stimulation, or 'resting-state' fMRI data, are increasingly embraced for their potential to open new avenues of human brain exploration. In addition, strong claims are often made about the advantages of resting-state techniques over, e.g., task-based fMRI for mapping functional and dysfunctional neural processes relevant for clinical and other applications. However, a considerable body of neuroscientists remains unconvinced that these techniques have lived (or will live) up to such weighty promises. In this talk I will aim to clarify certain points about what can and cannot be accomplished using popular resting-state fMRI methodologies, with a focus on functional connectivity analyses. Subsequently, I will present some examples of my own research applying resting-state network functional connectivity techniques in clinical-pharmacological contexts. Ultimately, I will propose a strategy for maximising the potential of resting-state fMRI methods in applied domains pertinent to neuropsychiatry, going forward.

About Dr. David Cole

I completed a PhD at Imperial College London’s Computational, Cognitive and Clinical Neuroimaging Lab. (C³NL), under the supervision of Prof. Christian Beckmann and Dr. Tom Nichols. In this work I used resting-state fMRI to examine the effects of neurochemical (in particular dopaminergic) modulations on large-scale network functional connectivity in the human brain. I also investigated the interactions between variability in such systems-level phenomena and individual differences in cognitive factors. Much of this research stemmed from valuable collaborations with, among other colleagues, Prof. Serge Rombouts (Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition), Prof. Paul Matthews (Imperial College London and GlaxoSmithKline) and the Imanova Centre for Imaging Sciences (formerly the GSK Clinical Imaging Centre). More recently I undertook a short post-doctoral position at the University of Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain (FMRIB, with Dr. Sonia Bishop).Having trained originally as an experimental psychologist and cognitive neuroscientist (BSc, MSc, University of York), with a range of academic and industry experiences in EEG, MEG, MRI and PET recording and analysis techniques, I am now based (since May 2013) at the TNU in Zurich working with Prof. Klaas Enno Stephan. My post-doctoral research bridges the divide between neuropsychiatry and computational neuroscience by way of (i) behavioural probes of impulsivity in decision-making, (ii) biophysical/computational modelling of behaviour, brain activity and connectivity, (iii) functional neuroimaging and (iv) psychopharmacology.

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