Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a set of powerful, versatile and non-invasive imaging methods. Since its invention in 1970s, it has found numerous applications in basic research and clinical practice. In particular, in the past two decades, functional MRI (fMRI) has emerged as a prominent functional brain mapping technique. It has been extensively utilized to map large-scale brain activities in response to sensory stimuli, in performing tasks, or in the resting state.

  With fMRI’s capability of whole-brain coverage, we are uniquely positioned to study the brain functions and organizations at the “brain connectome” level. Therefore, our research focuses on the large-scale functional networks, their underlying neural mechanisms and behavioral relevance in normal and pathological conditions, mostly insmall animals (rodents and small non-human primates). To study those issues, weutilize an interdisciplinary approach with state-of-art neuroscience and engineering techniques, such as fMRI, optogenetics, optical imaging, electrophysiology and behavioral testing. Specifically, we are interested in the following topics:

  1. Development of methodologies in small animal fMRI, with goals to develop and optimize novel data acquisition and analysis methods.

  2. Examination of neural mechanisms of fMRI (BOLD) signals and resulting functional connectivity using novel simultaneous optical modulation/recording and fMRI.

  3. Discovery of neural imaging based biomarkers and diagnostic methods in animal models of psychiatric and neurological disorders, with applications in clinical populations.

  Ultimately, our long-term goal is to use functional neural imaging methods to develop a framework of multi-level integration of neural activities at different spatial and temporal scales. And with deeper understanding of brain’s functional organization, we hope to further advance the diagnosis, treatment and mechanistic insight of brain disorders.

LIANG Zhifeng, Ph.D.