By David Mehler
The Local Organising Committee (LOC) at OHBM 2017 achieved a remarkable feat. With public health experts voicing concern about the spread of the Zika virus from South to Central America, it was decided that it was too risky to expose so many young OHBM members to potential infections in Puerto Rico, this year’s original site for OHBM. At this point, the Vancouver LOC stepped forward. They organised an entire, major international neuroimaging conference not in four years, as planned, but in one.
Here we speak to Lara Boyd, Professor of translational neuroscience at the University of British Columbia (UBC), chair of the Vancouver LOC, and TEDx sensation. We find out about the challenges of setting up OHBM at such short notice, and about her work mapping out rehabilitative medicine in stroke survivors:
OHBM 2017 Abstract Highlight: Neuroplasticity Associated with Reduced Depressive Symptoms after Cognitive Training for TBI
Q&A with Dr Kihwan Han
Depression is a common psychiatric disorder amongst individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Up to 77% of individuals with TBI have been found to experience depression. What can brain mapping tell us about depression after TBI? I met with Kihwan Han from the Center for Brain Health at the University of Texas at Dallas to talk about his recent research: an eight-week intervention that aimed at battling depression symptom severity in individuals with TBI.
Kihwan Han (KH): In this study we investigated whether 8 weeks of cognitive training would reduce symptoms and severity of depression in individuals with chronic TBI. Indeed, we found reductions in depressive symptoms in individuals with mild-to-severe depressive symptoms compared to individuals with minimal depressive symptoms. Decreases in depression severity were also associated with improvements in self-reported post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity, TBI symptom awareness and functional status. Further, reduced depressive symptoms were related to thickening of regional cortical gray matter and reductions in abnormal brain connectivity (Figure 2).
Q&A WITH HONG SEOK-JUN
This interview series highlights abstracts from the OHBM meeting that were identified by the Program Committee as “potentially newsworthy”. Abstract authors were asked to explain their research in more detail, discuss the context of their findings, and the possible implications for the field.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder that contains extensive symptomatic variability across people. There are presently no biomarkers to guide diagnosis of ASD - it continues to be diagnosed only after a child does not demonstrate the appropriate communication skills. In order to work toward identifying potential biomarkers from brain data, Hong Seok-Jun, a student with Prof Boris Bernhardt from the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University in Canada focused on Multidimensional MRI subtyping of ASD in adults. I met with Hong Seok-Jun to better understand his motivation to conduct this study and the implications of his findings.
Travel makes you richer --- it lets you experience new landscapes, languages and ways of thinking. This philosophy sits well with OHBM. Our organisation promotes travel and discussion amongst brain mappers from different corners of the globe and different sections of society.
As part of this cultural engagement, we currently have 5 chapters, representing brain mappers in the Alpine region, Turkey, China, Korea and Latin America. These Chapters allow researchers from clear geographical areas to pool their knowledge and resources, and speak with a unified voice both within OHBM and to stakeholders in science more generally. An excellent example of the knowledge that can be gained - not just within these groups but by outside observers - can be seen from the first meeting of Chinese Young Scholars.
This inaugural event was co-organised by Chao-Gan Yan, and originally covered by Dengfeng Huang in Mandarin on WeChat. Here we present an English translation, revealing to those less adept at reading hànzì just how the event went, and offering useful career advice for early career researchers around the world.