UW Radiology

UW Radiology Scientists Receive NSF Grant to Study Human Mental Abilities

Dr. Thomas Grabowski, Professor of in the UW Departments of Radiology and Neurology, has received $850,000 from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to probe the networks of neurons that support our mental abilities, such as attention and memory. In the brain, patches of specialized neurons, called cortical fields, form brain networks, and these vary widely in size from person to person. His team will test their idea that the size of a network’s cortical fields matters to its strength or susceptibility to dysfunction.

They will use functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) imaging to measure the connection strengths of two different brain networks in research participants. They will then temporarily disrupt the network with zaps of electricity from transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and observe how quickly the neurons recover, a measure of network vulnerability. The work will provide a better understanding of the neuroanatomical reasons people have variable mental abilities and predispositions.

Dr. Grabowski is the Director of the UW Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) and Medical Director of the UW Memory and Brain Wellness Center (MBWC). The Co-Principal Investigators include Dr. Andrea Stocco, Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology and the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS), and Dr. David Haynor, UW Professor of Neuroradiology.

The NSF news release can be found here. The details of the University of Washington’s award are here.

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