Dr Laura Parkes MPhys, MSc, PhD.

Reader and Lead for Manchester Neuroimaging

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Research interests

My research focus is the quantification of neurophysiological properties of the human brain, using both MRI and MEG. In particular I have developed quantitative measurements of cerebral blood flow (CBF) and oxygen metabolism in the human brain through the use of the arterial spin labeling (ASL) technique. I have applied these techniques to the study of cerebrovascular disease and ageing. In my developing career I plan to continue work in small vessel disease and use a combination of imaging measurements to investigate the physiological changes that lead to neuronal damage and cognitive decline in this disease, and other forms of dementia.
I am also interested in the potential for the brain to recover from disease and adapt, and in the mechanisms underlying this brain plasticity. My current research focuses on the neurophysiological changes that accompany cortical plasticity in both the visual and somatosensory systems of the normal healthy brain. I use both MEG and MRI to measure indicators of change, such as location and extent of the somatotopic map and the changing synaptic weighting between groups of neurons. I have implemented a multi-voxel pattern classification approach to fMRI analysis which I think is key to understanding changes in neural tuning that accompany plasticity. I plan to continue basic work on neural coding of sensory inputs.

Methodological knowledge

General MRI physics, with advanced knowledge of functional MRI and Arterial Spin Labelling.
Extensive knowledge of fMRI design, stimulus presentation using 'Presentation' software and analysis using BrainVoyager software.
Magnetoencephalography (MEG).
Combined EEG and fMRI (Brain Vision system).


Research and projects