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IoN News Archive (2011)

Imaging the evolution of multiple sclerosis

Congratulations to Professor David Miller (Department of Neuroinflammation) who was the 2011 Raymond D Adams Memorial Lecturer at the Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. He delivered this highly prestigious lecture, entitled “Imaging the evolution of multiple sclerosis”, on December 8th.  

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Scientists make step towards better understanding of the brain's teaching signals

 A study published in Neuron last week, conducted at UCL's Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, shows that the conventional view of how our brains learn has to be revisited. Previously, it was thought that the dopaminergic inputs that the ventral striatum receives from mid-brain structures signal a reward prediction error which facilitates learning from rewards. However, the study conducted by Miriam Klein-Flugge, Tim Behrens and colleagues, found that in situations where learning does not depend on rewards, the ventral striatal signal flexibly adapts and instead reflects a behaviourally relevant teaching signal, while the mid-brain still encodes the classic reward prediction error.

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Medical Illustrators presented prestigious Wellcome Image Award

We are pleased to report that at the recent Institute of Medical Illustrators annual conference the prestigious Wellcome Image Award 2011 was presented to Robert Ludlow, medical photographer at the joint UCL Institute of Neurology and UCLH National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery Medical Illustration Unit. Robert’s stunning image “Intracranial recording for epilepsy” shows the surface of a patient’s brain during surgery at the UCLH National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Derek Tutssel, Head of the Medical Illustration Unit, also received a Bronze Award from the Institute for his operative image.

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Neurodegenerative disease research projects secure international collaborative funding

Congratulations to UCL Institute of Neurology professor’s Martin Rossor and Anthony Schapira, who have both been awarded funding in the first ever Centres of Excellence in Neurodegeneration Research (CoEN) initiative. CoEN, an international collaborative of research funders including UK’s Medical Research Council, launched the initiative last year, with a remit of bringing together researchers from labs across the globe to further our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases and identify new ways of treating these diseases.

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Novel treatments for epilepsy

Half a million people in the UK have epilepsy of which 30% are not adequately controlled on present treatments. Moreover, the use of one of the most effective antiepileptic drugs, sodium valproate, has been limited by its side-effects and, in particular, by its teratogenic effect (a teratogen is a drug or other substance capable of interfering with the development of a fetus, causing birth defects).

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Professor Alan Thompson appointed as Dean of UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences


Warm congratulations to Professor Alan Thompson, who has been appointed as the first ever Dean of the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences. This new role comes about as the result of a major strategic restructuring of UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences. As a result of his new role Professor Thompson will relinquish the positions of Director of the Institute and interim Chair of the Neurosciences Domain. 

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Study reveals genetic clues underlying progressive supranuclear palsy


Scientists are one step closer to understanding the genes associated with the rare neurodegenerative disease, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), according to a study published in the current Nature Genetics. The genomewide association study was completed by an international consortium of researchers, including members of UCL Institute of Neurology’s Reta Lila Weston Institute (RLWI).

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Professor Maguire awarded Kemali prize

Congratulations to Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging’s Professor Eleanor Maguire who is the recipient of the Eighth International Prize of the Dargut and Milena Kemali Foundation for Basic and Clinical Neurosciences, for innovative contributions to understanding human memory. The Kemali Prize (25,000 Euro) will be awarded at the Congress of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies, FENS FORUM 2012, to be held in Barcelona, Spain (July 14 - 18, 2012), where the prize winner will also deliver the Kemali Lecture.

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Professor Dimitri Kullmann recognised for his outstanding research

The Wellcome Trust today announced the first recipients of its Investigator Awards, £56 million worth of funding for exceptional researchers addressing the most important questions about health and disease, and we are delighted be able to congratulate Professor Dimitri Kullmann, Head of the Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy who is amongst four UCL Scientists to receive one these prestigious awards.

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'Consciousness connections' revealed in coma brains

A new test of consciousness which could be helpful in the diagnosis of coma patients has been identified in new research led by scientists from the University of Liège and a team from the Wellcome Department of Imaging Neuroscience

Recent studies have shown that patients with severe brain damage who show little outward signs of perception or understanding may have a certain degree of pain experience and awareness. New methods of measuring awareness could help doctors better predict the likelihood of recovery and give families an indication on whether their loved one is aware of their presence.

In the study, published today in the journal Science, the team measured the electrical response to auditory stimulation by means of high-density electroencephalography (EEG). Using a sophisticated mathematical model they identified a neural signature of consciousness in healthy volunteers and in patients with "minimal consciousness" but not in unresponsive so-called "vegetative" patients. The study helps unravel how subjective consciousness arises from the physical activity of trillions of brain connections.

The University of Liège researchers, led by Dr. Melanie Boly and Dr. Steven Laureys, worked with Professor Karl Friston, Dr. Marta Garrido, and Dr. Vladimir Litvak at UCL on the development of mathematical models to identify the activated cerebral network and its "consciousness connections".

read more >>  Wellcome Trust Centre for NeuroimagingUniversity of Liège | Science | UCL News

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Prion infection begins after one minute of exposure

Scientists funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) have shown that one minute of exposure to infecting prions is enough to begin the chain reaction of events which lead to prion disease in the brain, causing Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of Mad Cow Disease, far quicker than previously estimated.

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IoN launches new website

The new UCL’s Institute of Neurology website launches today, bringing with it improved and additional features, and direct support from UCL web services.

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Professor Hanna invited to give prestigious ANZAN Lecture

Congratulations to UCL Institute of Neurology Professor Michael Hanna who has been invited to give the prestigious W Ian MacDonald Lecture at the Australian and New Zealand Association of Neurologists (ANZAN) Annual Scientific Meeting in Hobart, Australia. The W Ian McDonald Lecture was introduced to ANZAN in 2008 to honour neurologist W Ian McDonald’s (1933-2006) outstanding academic career. New Zealander McDonald spent much of his career at the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery and UCL Institute of Neurology, where he was a leading figure in the

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Rhythm and the perception of time

Human behaviour such as speech and movement requires precise coordination in time. But how does the brain perceive time? In particular, how does the brain perceive the durations between the intervals in a sequence of sounds, such as rhythms we hear in music?

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IoN scientist receives prize to promote German-Anglo relations

Professor Eleanor Maguire, Senior Research Fellow in the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, has been awarded the 2011 Feldberg Foundation prize, to facilitate the exchange of scientific knowledge between German and British scientists.

The Feldberg Foundation, a registered German charity, was established in 1961 by Professor Wilhelm Feldberg, CBE, FRS, with the aim of promoting scientific contact between Germany and the UK, particularly between researchers working in the area of physiology, pharmacology and related topics. Each year the foundation awards two prizes, worth €20,000 each, to two scientists, one German and one British.

Professor Maguire, this year’s British recipient stated, "I'm stunned and honoured to have been awarded this prestigious prize. I very much look forward to giving my lectures in Germany, and further cementing what are already close relations between UK and German neuroscience."

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