In a recent issue of NeuroImage, Dr. Alice O'Toole, Aage and Margareta Møller Professor, co-authored an article exploring how the brain responds differently to the faces or bodies of people while in motion or standing still.
O'Toole and colleagues used videos of people moving or standing still while focusing on their face, body, or the entire person to examine how these factors influence a participant's ability to recall the person from the image. Additionally, the experiments took place using functional magnetic resonance imaging methods, which measured blood changes in the brain resulting from neural activity. The researchers found the brain responded differently to faces than to just the body or the whole image regardless of whether the person was moving or in a static image.
Analysis of the results suggested that people encode information about identity in a flexible and redundant manner that can accommodate a variety of ways to view a person.
Behavioral and Brain Science researchers Vaidehi Natu, Xiaobo An, Allyson Rice, and James Ryland were also authors on this study.
Dr. Michael Kilgard, Margaret Fonde Jonsson Professor, recently co-authored a study in Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair examining stroke recovery using a novel method combining vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) with rehabilitative training.
Researchers tested whether VNS could improve recovery of the lost ability to press a lever in rats that had experienced a stroke. The stroke-impaired rats received rehabilitative training alone, training with concurrent VNS, or training followed by VNS. Stimulating the vagus nerve releases several neurotransmitters, or chemicals in the brain, thought to improve brain recovery. Those receiving VNS during rehabilitative training recovered their full lever press ability, while the rats that only underwent rehabilitative training did not.
This study demonstrates that pairing VNS with motor rehabilitation can improve recovery following stroke. Eventually, this method may be used to help humans recover lost motor function following brain injury.
Behavioral and Brain Science researchers Dr. Navid Khodaparast, Dr. Seth Hays, Dr. Andrew M. Sloan, Tabbassum Fayyaz, Daniel Hulsey and Dr. Robert Rennaker II were also authors on this study.