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The IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, Chicago Chapter is honored to present Dr. Sven Vanneste, a pioneer and expert in the research on ageing-related neurological disorders.

The brain is an astonishingly complex and robust network of cells that mediates our everyday functions from sensations and movements to consciousness and learning. Under certain conditions that are not yet sufficiently understood, the brain can undergo unstable or deviant states that lead to debilitating and even life-threatening circumstances (e.g., seizures, depression, tinnitus and neurodegeneration). The field of neuromodulation has emerged as a promising opportunity to treat these different brain disorders, in which a seemingly crude pattern of electrical or magnetic stimulation of the nervous system can interact with aberrant neurons to improve a patient’s symptoms. One of the most widely pursued approaches uses surface electrical stimulation on the scalp or body, including activation of the trigeminal or vagus nerve, to treat a wide range of health conditions such as seizures, depression, tinnitus, anxiety, memory loss, inflammation and pain, though results can vary dramatically. A growing consensus is that this type of non-invasive stimulation can be non-specific and sensitizes a broad area of the brain that may drive therapeutic effects in some patients; however, greater or more consistent efficacy may be achieved through paired stimulation with a targeted input or task to interact with specific sensitized regions relevant for improving symptoms. In other words, electrical stimulation applied to the head could lead to current that spreads across and activates a broad volume of the brain or electrical stimulation of a peripheral nerve can have widespread projections throughout the brain that broadly activate multiple interconnected neural regions. However, a targeted input (e.g., a single pure tone or movement of a single finger) or specific task can be designed to activate a local population of neurons that overlaps with the broad activation caused by electrical stimulation, in which coordinated activation by both modalities leads to paired plasticity or sensitization of just the overlapping localized region (i.e. functional targeting or targeted plasticity). In this presentation I will go deeper in on the potential of peripheral nerve stimulation as a tool target plasticity and its application for different neurological disorders including memory decline, tinnitus, chronic pain, stroke and PTSD.



December 16, 2020
10:00 am - 11:00 am CDT
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