This two-phase consortium study by translational research neurosurgeons at UCLA and the Universities of Iowa and Toronto, working with select cognitive neuroscientists worldwide, will launch a broad investigation of the neuronal underpinnings of cognition, using fMRI imaging and direct recordings from cells in patients undergoing brain surgery. Through a series of pilot studies in surgical patients , consortium researchers will investigate the responses of single neurons and their electrochemical pathways within neural networks in various brain areas, as the patients perform specific cognitive tasks. The findings are anticipated to further scientific understanding of human cognition at the level of nerve networks within the brain. This “cells and circuits” approach is designed ultimately to reveal the neural basis for human cognition and lead to the development of new therapies for diseases that impair cognition, such as neurodegenerative diseases, autism, depression, and epilepsy.
The effort will proceed in two phases. In Phase One, the consortium will be organized, and members and leading cognitive neuroscientists will participate in a workshop designed to facilitate discussion of initial key research questions that should be explored and of optimal methods for addressing these. Thereafter, consortium members will select initial pilot studies to be pursued, identify the roles of each collaborating site for each study, design the studies, determine how data will be analyzed, and develop an efficient and effective means for making the data available online to the research community worldwide. In Phase Two, the research will be undertaken as planned.