The Laboratory of Cognitive Neuromodulation (LCN) is a multi-disciplinary research team focused on clinical investigative and basic neuroscience studies of the pathophysiology of impaired consciousness. Ongoing research in human subjects employs state-of-the art neuroimaging and neurophysiologic techniques utilizing magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography studies, and high-resolution, long-term quantitative electroencephalographic measurements. In collaboration with investigators in the Division of Systems Neuroscience and Neurology, ongoing basic neuroscience studies of the LCN focus mechanisms underlying central thalamic contributions to forebrain arousal regulation mechanisms and the development of central thalamic deep brain stimulation as a novel therapeutic strategy to restore cognitive function in patients with non-progressive brain injuries.
The research program of the LCN has provided several new and landmark contributions to the understanding of cerebral activity in severely brain injured-patients. Among important milestones, LCN research has identified and characterized the preservation of functional cerebral networks and brain substructures across a wide range of structural brain injury types and severity, provided the first insight into mechanisms underlying very late recovery of meaningful brain function after long-standing minimally conscious state, and mechanisms underlying common aspects of medication responses in severe brain injury and related mechanisms of general anesthesia. Most notably, based on insights into the neurophysiological mechanisms of arousal regulation and the unique potential of deep brain electrical stimulation techniques, our research has provided the first evidence that long-lasting, severe cognitive disability may be influenced by modulation of the central thalamus. Collectively the LCN’s work is providing a critical foundation for developing further understanding of both the mechanisms of recovery of consciousness and basic mechanisms underlying consciousness in the human brain.