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Rebalancing the brain:
Guiding brain recovery after stroke

Objective

Damage to parietal cortex after stroke causes patients to become unaware of large parts of their surroundings and body parts. This so-called spatial neglect is hypothesised to be brought about by a stroke-induced imbalance between the left and right hemisphere. Some patients experience a partial recovery of lost abilities, but the factors that drive this rebalancing are unknown. The research proposed here will overcome this bottleneck in our understanding of the brain recovery phenomenon, and develop therapeutic approaches that for the first time will control, steer and speed up brain rebalancing after stroke. To that goal, we introduce a revolutionary approach in which TMS, fMRI, and EEG are applied simultaneously in healthy human volunteers to artificially unbalance the brain, and then study and control processes of rebalancing. Because we are one of the few groups worldwide that has accomplished this methodology, and that has the expertise to fully analyse the data it will yield, we are in a unique position to deliver both fundamental insights into brain plasticity, and derived new therapies. In brief, we will use TMS to (i) mimic spatial neglect in healthy volunteers while simultaneously monitoring the underlying neural network effects using fMRI/EEG, and to (ii) determine which exact brain reorganisation leads to an optimal behavioral recovery after injury. Importantly, we will use cutting-edge fMRI pattern recognition and machine learning algorithms to predict which concrete TMS treatment will specifically support this optimal functional reorganisation in the unbalanced brain. Finally, we will directly translate these fundamental findings into clinical practise and apply novel TMS protocols to rebalance the brain in patients suffering from parietal stroke.

Call for proposal

ERC-2010-StG_20091209
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Host institution

UNIVERSITEIT MAASTRICHT
Address
Minderbroedersberg 4
6200 MD Maastricht
Netherlands
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 344 853
Principal investigator
Alexander Thomas Sack (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Liane Ligtenberg (Ms.)

Beneficiaries (1)

UNIVERSITEIT MAASTRICHT
Netherlands
EU contribution
€ 1 344 853
Address
Minderbroedersberg 4
6200 MD Maastricht
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Principal investigator
Alexander Thomas Sack (Dr.)
Administrative Contact
Liane Ligtenberg (Ms.)