Project Details


Brains influence who people are; how people see, hear, and smell, how they move, touch, and talk, how they remember and forget, how they feel, expect, and plan. Understanding how the brain, with all its neurons and interconnections, generates complex behavior is a tremendous scientific challenge and modern technology is indispensable in this endeavor. This project will make a new state-of-the-art instrument available at Rutgers University - Newark. The instrument allows brain researchers to not only measure brain activity in humans with unsurpassed spatio-temporal fidelity, but also modulate that activity by passing small electrical currents through the scalp. The instrument will be used by a broad range of researchers, and offer training opportunities to students across departments of Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, and Neuroscience, and at all levels; ranging from high-school summer interns to postgraduate research fellows. The impact of this training is expected to be particularly broad at Rutgers University - Newark due to its exceptionally diverse student body and the large number of programs focused on increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities. The new instrument can record and modulate electrical brain activity inside a magnetic resonance imaging scanner. Its 256 small electrodes have the capability to perform high-density electroencephalography as well as high-density transcranial current stimulation. This addresses three shortcomings of standard approaches in cognitive brain research. First, the instrument will complement the slow, but spatially precise recording of brain activity based on functional imaging with the simultaneous measurement of rapidly changing electrical activity. This will allow researchers to study the fundamental physiology of perception, thought, and action in humans. Second, the instrument can modulate brain activity in a safe and noninvasive manner. This creates a powerful research paradigm to investigate the causal role of brain areas. Third, the new instrument will help build bridges between animal and human neuroscience approaches by obtaining experimental data noninvasively in humans that can be compared more directly with those obtained in animals. Specific new projects will focus on improving perception using transcranial stimulation, the role of oscillations in memory formation and sleep, the interaction among prefrontal and striatal areas in reward processing, and the rapid neural control of the heart, to name just a few. The transformative aspect of the research enabled by this device is the combination of high spatial and temporal resolution brain imaging and the focus on active manipulations of brain activity that allow researchers to move beyond correlation and towards a causal understanding of brain function.
Effective start/end date9/1/158/31/16


  • National Science Foundation (National Science Foundation (NSF))


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