Project ID NS-MH2023_15


Co Supervisor 1A FoLSM/Population Health Sciences, School of Life Course and Population SciencesWebsite

Co Supervisor 1B IoPPN/Basic and Clinical Neuroscience. Also Honorary Consultant in Clinical Neurophysiology, Paediatric Neurosciences, Evelina London Children's Hospital, GSTT.Website

Modulating cortical connectivity with transcranial magnetic stimulation to enhance sensorimotor function in movement disorders

The generation of skilled upper limb movements relies on a complex neuronal network including several cerebral cortical and sub-cortical areas. The processing of multi-modal sensory information and its efficient transfer across this network are critical to produce precise and adaptable movements in an ever-changing environment. Damage to regions of this network impacts dramatically on sensorimotor function, leading to devastating movement disorders such as dystonic-dyskinetic cerebral palsy (DCP).

Using novel transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) techniques, we have recently measured the connectivity between two cortical nodes of this network, allowing us to test whether sensorimotor information is transferred efficiently and what alterations occur following cortical damage. Recent findings also reveal that up-regulation of cortical connectivity via TMS-induced Hebbian-like neuroplasticity mechanisms can lead to improved performance of perceptual tasks. However, it is unknown whether these TMS-induced perceptual gains can be translated into improved motor control. We hypothesise that up-regulating the connectivity between specific sensorimotor areas will improve sensorimotor integration and, consequently, the definition of motor commands in healthy volunteers, with the potential to restore sensorimotor function in children/adults with disabling movement disorders.

Year1: Determine TMS parameters for inducing neuroplastic changes in cortical sensorimotor connectivity with parallel gains in motor function in healthy volunteers.
Year2: Determine TMS parameters for mediating cortical connectivity changes in children with DCP.
Year 3-4: Investigate whether modulating cortical connectivity patterns in children with DCP leads to improved sensorimotor function and goal achievement.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation, electroencephalo- and myography (EEG, EMG), time- and frequency-based analysis of neurophysiological signals.

One representative publication from each co-supervisor:

Rens G, van Polanen V, Botta A, Gann MA, Orban de Xivry JJ, Davare M. Sensorimotor Expectations Bias Motor Resonance during Observation of Object Lifting: The Causal Role of pSTS. J Neurosci. 2020 May 13;40(20):3995-4009.

McClelland VM, Fischer P, Foddai E, Dall’Orso, S, Burdet E, Brown P, Lin JP. EEG measures of sensorimotor processing and their development are abnormal in children with isolated dystonia and dystonic cerebral palsy. Neuroimage: Clinical 2021 30;102569.