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Rosalyn Moran, PhD
Understanding Interacting Neurotransmitter Systems in Cortical Networks Through Dynamic Causal Modeling
Senior Research Associate, Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Neurology, University College London
2 Riverside Circle, Roanoke, VA 24016
The appropriate integration of signals from functionally specialized brain regions is essential for normal cognition and behavior, and its absence may underpin the symptoms of a broad range of neurological and psychiatric diseases. In this talk, Dr. Moran will propose dynamic causal modeling (DCM) as a “mathematical microscope” that can provide regional-, laminar-, neurotransmitter-, and receptor-specific assays of functioning brain networks.
In particular, neuromodulatory chemicals such as dopamine, acetylcholine, and serotonin organize a diverse set of cognitive processes and are implicated in neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Understanding how they interact with primary neurotransmitters in active brain networks is hence an important prerequisite for understanding pathological onset and progression. Dr. Moran will present data and a DCM analysis of Parkinsonian animal recordings that reveal changes in connectivity in motor circuits downstream of dopamine loss. From a healthy human population, she will describe how DCM was used to link behavioral improvement under pro- dopaminergic (levodopa) modulation to changes in AMPA- and NMDA-mediated signaling in prefrontal regions. She will report pro-cholinergic effects in an analysis of healthy adults that delineates where and how acetylcholine modulates perceptual processing and learning. Effectively, Dr. Moran aims to demonstrate that it is possible to cross many scales of neuroscientific description using data acquired non-invasively, linking overt behavior to its molecular components and providing a window to the machinery of the human mind.
About the Speaker:
After earning a doctorate in electronic engineering from University College Dublin, Dr. Rosalyn Moral undertook a postdoctoral fellowship at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London.