Positions

Assistant Professor
Neurology and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
Baylor College of Medicine
Principal Investigator
Investigational Targeted Brain Neurotherapeutics Laboratory
Baylor College of Medicine

Education

PhD from University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
MHSc from Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health
BA from University of Georgia
Internship at University of Maryland
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Internship at Baylor College of Medicine
Neuropsychology of Neurodegenerative Diseases
Post-Doctoral Fellowship at University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Functional Imaging of Pain and Opioid Administration
Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine
Real-time Functional MRI Neurofeedback of Speech
Post-Doctoral Fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine
Real-time Functional MRI Neurofeedback & Rehabilitation of Cortical Blindness

Professional Interests

  • Human Brain Neuroimaging
  • Real-time Functional MRI Neurofeedback
  • Plasticity and Neuro-rehabilitation of Cortical Blindness
  • Neuro-rehabilitation of Speech Impairment
  • Neuro-rehabilitation of Chronic Pain

Professional Statement

The areas of focus my laboratory - Investigational Targeted Brain Neuro-therapeutics - funded by the McNair Medical Institute, include the neuro-rehabilitation of:

visual cortical blindness;

speech/motor impairment; and

chronic pain as a result of traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain tumor, neurodegenerative disease, and pain syndromes.

We use a novel intervention to provide cortically targeted neuro-rehabilitation, called real-time functional MRI neurofeedback to induce reorganization in cortical and subcortical pathways. Patients undergo rneurofeedback in real time to upregulate or downregulate the activity of intact cortical and/or subcortical areas in conjunction with the continuous presentation of visual stimuli inside the MRI environment with the goal to restore or reorganize lesioned pathways associated with vision, speech, or pain. The modulation in the Blood-Oxygen-Level-Dependent (BOLD) signal intensity is achieved by feeding" back to the patient the magnitude of mean BOLD signal intensity of his/her intact cortical area during the presentation of a stimulus in real-time. The hypothesis is that such training engages Hebbian mechanisms that modulate the activity of intact cortical areas with the goal to improve performance.

The current research goals of my laboratory are:

To examine and understand the neural mechanisms of brain plasticity in the design of treatments that will enhance nervous system recovery after a brain insult;

To achieve long-term effects of personalized neurofeedback interventions at targeted cortical and subcortical areas, and;

To optimize rt-fMRI neurofeedback as "a next generation" neurotherapeutic approach with the end goal to use this tool in the clinical setting, the effects of which can be translated outside the MRI environment.

The long-term goal is to correlate neuroimaging with genetic biomarkers to better understand the pathways and mechanisms involved in the dynamic variability in disease risk and brain reorganization, which will allow us to induce fast, robust and long-term brain neuro-rehabilitation.

Selected Publications