Whole-brain dynamics and higher cognitive processing in disorders of consciousness
Adam Hampshire (Medicine)
Aldo Faisal (Bioengineering)
Rob Leech (Medicine)
Gregory Scott (Medicine)
Disorders of consciousness (DoC) patients were long considered to lack conscious awareness because although they have sleep wake cycles they do not respond or communicate overtly. However brain-imaging research has shown that some of these patients are able to respond in a volitional manner using their thoughts, even though they are not able to do so motorically. A timely aim is to determine the levels of cognitive processing that such patients can achieve. In this project, the student will first develop markers of different cognitive processes by applying machine learning techniques to measures of brain dynamics, extracted from EEG and fMRI data. They will train classifiers to identify those states with high accuracy in both healthy adults and brain-injured patients. They will then apply the classifiers to determine the types of cognitive process that DoC patients engage in. This work will provide a window into the inner world of DoC patients. It will also inform the development of brain computer interfaces that may be used to unlock them.