Tracking sensorimotor impairment after SCI, Stroke, and MS

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In this project, we explore changes in sensory and motor information flow and processing between the brain and cervical spinal cord in different central nervous system (CNS) pathologies.

Usually, CNS disorders like spinal cord injury (SCI), stroke, or multiple sclerosis (MS) lead to an altered flow of incoming (i.e. afferent) and outgoing (i.e. efferent) information and to severe changes of its processing at multiple levels along the neuraxis. To improve treatment of patient population-specific deficits and dysfunctions, we need to better understand the CNS levels involved in and the mechanisms underlying such altered information flow. Here we examine the coupling between brain, spinal cord, and body during impaired dexterous movements and pathological pain processing in SCI, Stroke, or MS patients by means of simultaneous brain and spinal cord fMRI.

By fusing innovative neuroimaging techniques with impairment-related motor tasks or sensory stimulations, we will be measuring the effective connectivity between different neuronal networks in the CNS.

Thereby we try to identify the key regions malfunctioning in sensorimotor information processing and integration which are generally affected in prominent disorders and diseases of the CNS such as SCI, stroke, or MS.

A more detailed characterization and better understanding of signal transmission deficiency and dysfunctions along the whole neuraxis has the potential to foster the development of specific therapeutic approaches and interventions.

This project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (143715).