Theses Doctoral

Multimodal Investigation of Brain Network Systems: From Brain Structure and Function to Connectivity and Neuromodulation

He, Hengda

The field of cognitive neuroscience has benefited greatly from multimodal investigations of the human brain, which integrate various tools and neuroimaging data to understand brain functions and guide treatments for brain disorders. In this dissertation, we present a series of studies that illustrate the use of multimodal approaches to investigate brain structure and function, brain connectivity, and neuromodulation effects.

Firstly, we propose a novel landmark-guided region-based spatial normalization technique to accurately quantify brain morphology, which can improve the sensitivity and specificity of functional imaging studies. Subsequently, we shift the investigation to the characteristics of functional brain activity due to visual stimulations. Our findings reveal that the task-evoked positive blood-oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) response is accompanied by sustained negative BOLD responses in the visual cortex. These negative BOLD responses are likely generated through subcortical neuromodulatory systems with distributed ascending projections to the cortex.

To further explore the cortico-subcortical relationship, we conduct a multimodal investigation that involves simultaneous data acquisition of pupillometry, electroencephalography (EEG), and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). This investigation aims to examine the connectivity of brain circuits involved in the cognitive processes of salient stimuli. Using pupillary response as a surrogate measure of activity in the locus coeruleus-norepinephrine system, we find that the pupillary response is associated with the reorganization of functional brain networks during salience processing.

In addition, we propose a cortico-subcortical integrated network reorganization model with potential implications for understanding attentional processing and network switching. Lastly, we employ a multimodal investigation that involves concurrent transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), EEG, and fMRI to explore network perturbations and measurements of the propagation effects. In a preliminary exploration on brain-state dependency of TMS-induced effects, we find that the propagation of left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex TMS to regions in the lateral frontoparietal network might depend on the brain-state, as indexed by the EEG prefrontal alpha phase.

Overall, the studies in this dissertation contribute to the understanding of the structural and functional characteristics of brain network systems, and may inform future investigations that use multimodal methodological approaches, such as pupillometry, brain connectivity, and neuromodulation tools. The work presented in this dissertation has potential implications for the development of efficient and personalized treatments for major depressive disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer's disease.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Biomedical Engineering
Thesis Advisors
Sajda, Paul
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 9, 2023