Lord Dowding Fund for humane research


National Antivisection Society

2010 - Neuroimaging

22 March 2010

The well established and successful collaboration LDF maintains with Professor Paul Furlong at Aston University will be extended as LDF grants funding for a further five years.

Professor Furlong had been leading cutting-edge research at the Aston Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) facility since 2004, building on a previous highly successful portfolio of work.

Research has formerly involved human volunteers being used to study brains focusing on a wide range of human neurology topics, including brain patterns in language tasks and vision studies. The renewed funding will be building on this research by allowing the development and improvement of neuroimaging techniques, including MRI, FMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), MRS (Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy) and DTI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging). All of these techniques involve a highly sensitive imaging system with a high signal-to-noise ratio affording faster image acquisition and higher image resolution. In a change to the past where a maintenance grant was paid, the areas of research LDF sponsored scanning hours will be covering include epilepsy and cognitive function.

This will allow the development of novel methods of pre-surgical assessment and diagnosis and increased understanding of the structural and functional networks underpinning perceptive and cognitive processes which are vital to our understating of brain function. Understanding the neural basis of logical reasoning will help to elucidate complex higher order cortical function and cognition activities allowing us to understand the nature of mental illness and neurodevelopmental disorders.

Traditionally, invasive animal experiments were used for such research, yielding data not only not directly applicable to humans but was also scientifically questionable.

The science of neurodevelopment is in an exciting phase. New models which will allow researchers to study and diagnose conditions in the human brain non-invasively are on the horizon. Animal models are rapidly being replaced with more robust, humane techniques using human volunteers and LDF is excitingly placed in providing key funds to such advanced, cutting-edge research.

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