We are very proud to announce the first 2018 early career speaker, Dr Lucia Li, Imperial College London.
Some of you may remember Lucia as the 2017 BrainBox Initiative poster prize winner so we are excited to hear how her research has developed since then.
Name: Lucia Li, www.imperial.ac.uk/people/lucia.li
Institution: Imperial College, London
PhD Thesis: Targeted use of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (TDCS) for cognitive modulation after traumatic brain injury: a neurophysiological and cognitive investigation
Current Research Area: Traumatic brain injury, cognitive rehabilitation and brain stimulation
You won the 2017 poster prize, tell us about your competition winning research and why you chose this particular area: My clinical interest is in traumatic brain injury (TBI), because survivors are often left with debilitating cognitive difficulties. There is a real need to look for new and effective treatments. Cognitive deficits in TBI are characterised by abnormal cognitive network function. I investigated whether tDCS targeting cognitive networks might improve cognitive control after TBI. As well as using behavioural outcome measures, I also measured cognitive network function by acquiring MRI at the same time as brain stimulation. I found that tDCS can improve cognitive function, but that the behavioural effect is related to the integrity of the white matter within the cognitive networks I stimulated. This suggests that tDCS can be used to modulate the function of cognitive networks, and that white matter integrity modulates the response to tDCS.
What inspired you to enter the BrainBox Initiative Speaker programme? Rogue Resolutions supply the tDCS equipment I’ve been using, so the conference was a natural place for me to present some of my work. I was also impressed by the emphasis on showcasing work from early stage researchers.
What are some current exciting areas of brain stimulation research? I think the advancements in combined neuroimaging (such as MRI or EEG) and brain stimulation will be really influential in the field, because it will allow people to look for neurophysiological markers. This will help improve our understanding of how stimulation affects the brain, which should enable us to design more effective protocols, as well as understanding the sources of response variability to stimulation. I think different stimulation techniques, such as temporal interference, will allow us to stimulate previously inaccessible brain regions. This would expand the possible degrees of freedom available to researchers to explore.
Do you have any advice for other early career researchers? Find someone to work with who challenges you to be a better scientist. Develop lots of patience!
Thank you Lucia, we look forward to hearing more in the coming months.