KNAW Grant for new collaboration with Spinoza Center for Neuroimaging

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The Laboratory of Experimental Ophthalmology of the UMCG together with the Spinoza Centre for Neuroimaging received a grant from the KNAW-research fund (€250.000) for studying the human neurocircuitry by expanding the Dutch neuroscientist network. The project aims to kick-off a long-term collaboration between the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) and Spinoza to strengthen the Dutch knowledge infrastructure and exchange on ultra-high field MRI at 7 Tesla and address scientific questions and their translational opportunities.

The collaboration will focus on two research projects which extend the Netherlands-wide knowledge hub on ultra-high field MRI scanning that can preserve the front-runner role of Dutch neuroscience in the study of the structure and function of the human brain in health and disease.

Unravelling the functional anatomy of cortical circuitry

The human brain can learn and adapt to change, which solves many of the problems posed by an ever-changing visual environment. However, to maintain a consistent overall representation of the world, the brain also has to retain previously acquired neuronal mechanisms. The key is to strike a balance between plasticity and stability. Increasing our knowledge about the stability and plasticity of the brain has tremendous potential for innovation in health care and high-tech industry. Researcher of the Spinoza Centre, NIN and UMCG have outlined their ideas for future developments in this field. Their ideas show both sufficient overlap as well as diversity, warranting a fruitful collaboration and discussion.

Introducing advanced brain analysis methods

A number of departments of the UMCG have contributed to the field of neuro-imaging by extending methods inspired by the original pRF technique. UMCG has applied these methods to study both healthy visual processing as well as that of patients. Moreover, UMCG has experience in the application of advanced network analyses and structural analysis to study neurodegeneration related to ocular pathology. Introducing these advanced techniques to the Spinoza Centre would expand it methodological capabilities, and make them available for the Spinoza network.

Enable sustainable access

At present, UMCG does its neuroscientific imaging studies on a (clinical) 3T MRI machine. Such a magnet is perfectly suited for studying whole-brain function and structure in health and disease (e.g. in psychiatry, neurology). However, the expectation is that eventually, both neuroscientific and clinical MRI scanning will transition to 7T. Having this long-term collaboration will provide UMCG with easy and guaranteed access to high resolution 7T data, and enable it to get acquainted with 7T and prepare it for this future transition.