A computational view of the brain plasticity at rest

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    Even when the human brain is at rest, its activity continues to change spontaneously. We know very little about the neuroanatomical structures and the biological mechanisms involved. Such knowledge is important for understanding human perception and brain changes, both in healthy people and in disease. Therefore, the overall aim of my research was to expand our understanding of the biological and computational mechanisms underlying the plasticity of spontaneous human brain activity. I specifically focused my research on developing methods to analyze small-scale interactions between visual brain regions and large-scale interactions at the level of brain networks. A commonly used tool for brain research in humans is functional magnetic resonance imaging. This allows researchers to register brain activity in a non-invasive way and in a relatively short time, also in people who are in a resting state (rs-fMRI). Based on the measured activity, the functional relationships between different brain regions can be mapped without the need to present a stimulus. Another advantage is that rs-fMRI requires very little effort from the participant. Together, this makes rs-fMRI very useful to investigate the consequences of neuro-ophthalmic diseases on the brain, even at an advanced stage (eg in case of glaucoma in near-blindness). Therefore, in my dissertation, I focused on the use of rs-fMRI. In my dissertation, I demonstrate the fundamental and clinical relevance of measuring changes in spontaneous brain activity using rs-fMRI. The new methods that I have developed make it possible to investigate small-scale and large-scale functional connections in the brain. Moreover, they make it easier to apply rs-fMRI clinically in both the early and later stages of a disease. My methods can help future studies to increase our understanding of the functional connections of the healthy visual cortex and changes therein due to disease. They enable researchers to translate their knowledge about how the brain works into new, sophisticated diagnostic applications and therapeutic interventions.
    Originele taal-2English
    KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
    Toekennende instantie
    • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
    Begeleider(s)/adviseur
    • Cornelissen, Frans, Supervisor
    • Jansonius, Nomdo, Supervisor
    • Renken, Remco, Co-supervisor
    Datum van toekenning1-nov.-2021
    Plaats van publicatie[Groningen]
    Uitgever
    Gedrukte ISBN's978-94-6419-347-3
    DOI's
    StatusPublished - 2021

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