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Date: Wed May 11
Time: 2:00
Place: 442 DA

Title: Non-invasive network modulation


Non-invasive brain stimulation has rapidly emerged as a tool to reveal the inner workings of the mind as well as treat neuropsychiatric disorders. Yet development of non-invasive stimulation protocols has historically been dependent upon motor stimulation. We propose a novel approach to non-invasive brain stimulation: utilizing the network organization to create behavioral and clinical effects. Resting state functional connectivity has the unique ability to assess multiple different cognitive networks at once.

We have conducted series of experiments that use non-invasive brain stimulation to change functional connectivity, and in turn change behavior. In healthy participants, and shown that it is possible to change the connectivity of the default network with cortical transcranial magnetic stimulation (Halko et al 2010; Eldaief et al 2011). Functional connectivity can create new opportunities for novel target selection: cerebellar stimulation also changes network functional connectivity (Halko et al 2014). This approach can lead to novel stimulation approaches: for example, by targeting the cerebellum, it is possible to "drive" cortical networks. This targeted cerebellar approach leads to improvements in sustained attention, and may be an effective treatment for schizophrenia.

Which networks can be stimulated via the cerebellum? Traditional understanding of the cerebellum has been limited by difficulty in consistent localization of cognitive function. By utilizing functional connectivity, it is possible to assess the location of cognitive networks. Applying magnetic field modeling, it is possible to simulate a variety of locations across the cerebellum, identifying the best coil positions to stimulate networks, and predicting subsequent cognitive effects.

I will discuss future applications of this combined experimental and modeling approach, where in-silico predictions can be tested with in-vivo experiments, and where modeling can help optimize the delivery of non-invasive stimulation.


Mark Halko is an Instructor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical School. Mark obtained his Ph. D in Psychology from Boston University, where he used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and behavioral studies to understand how the visual system is organized with Prof David C. Somers. Mark joined the Berenson-Allen Center for Nonivasive Brain Stimulation in 2008 to develop combined TMS with fMRI approaches for the study of the brain. Mark has received the 2014 IEEE EMBS Brain Grand Challenges Young Investigator Award for this work. This work was sponsored by the Sidney R. Baer Jr. Foundation, and the Harvard Catalyst (NCRR & NCATS/NIH Grant 8KL2TR000168- 05).