Learning has been studied at multiple levels, including behavior, brain regions, individual neurons, and synapses. However, little is known about how populations of neurons change their activity in concert during learning. Are there network constraints on the types of new neural activity patterns that can be achieved? We studied this
question using a brain-computer interface (BCI), which allows us to specify which population activity patterns lead to task success. We identified a simple network principle that can predict which types of activity patterns are easier or harder for the subject to learn to generate. This work provides a network-level explanation for why
learning some tasks may be easier than others.
Resective brain surgery is often performed in people with intractable epilepsy, congenital structural lesions, vascular anomalies, or neoplasms. Surgical planning of the resection procedure depends substantially on the delineation of abnormal tissue and on the creation of a functional map of eloquent cortex, i.e., cortex involved in motor or language function. Traditionally, different methodologies have been used to produce this functional map, most notably electrical cortical stimulation (ECS) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), but each of these methods has important shortcomings (including increased morbidity, time consumption, expense, or practicality).
Patients undergoing invasive brain surgery would benefit greatly from a mapping methodology that is safe, can be rapidly applied, is comparatively inexpensive, is procedurally simple, and also is congruent to existing techniques (in particular to ECS mapping). Task-related changes detected in electrocorticographic (ECoG) recordings could provide the basis for a technique with those desirable characteristics. This approach seems particularly attractive because existing surgical protocols often already include the placement of subdural electrodes, and because a number of recent studies have shown that ECoG activity in the broadband gamma (70-170 Hz) band are directly reflective of activity of neuronal populations directly underneath the electrodes and can also be directly linked to the BOLD response detected using fMRI.
Over the past decade, we have been using and extending this understanding, and been applying it to develop a robust and practical ECoG-based procedure for presurgical functional mapping of eloquent cortex. This procedure is now readily available to others (cortiQ, www.cortiq.eu). We and others have shown that this procedure can produce a functional map of motor, language, or cognitive function within a few minutes, and that the results of this ECoG-based mapping are in strong congruence to the results derived using ECS mapping.
In this talk, I will be describing the neurophysiological and technical principles of this technique, and give examples of its clinical utility in the context of different types of invasive brain surgery. I will also be able to discuss the practical clinical relevance of this technique compared to ECS and fMRI.
A fundamental challenge of modern society is the development of effective approaches to enhance brain function and cognition in both the healthy and impaired. For the healthy, this should be a core mission of our educational system and for the cognitively impaired this is the primary goal of our medical system. Unfortunately, neither of these systems have effectively met this challenge. I will describe a novel approach out of our center at UCSF – Neuroscape – that uses custom-designed video games to achieve meaningful and sustainable cognitive enhancement via personalized closed-loop systems (Nature 2013; Neuron 4014). I will also share with you the next stage of our research program, which integrates our video games with the latest technological innovations in software (e.g., brain computer interface algorithms, GPU computing, cloud-based analytics) and hardware (e.g., virtual reality, mobile EEG, motion capture, physiological recording devices (watches), transcranial brain stimulation) to further enhance our brain’s information processing systems with the ultimate aim of improving quality of life.