Lord Dowding Fund for humane research


National Antivisection Society

LDF funded project at Aston University continues to produce internationally reviewed findings

2 February 2012


The continuing partnership between Aston University’s Brain Centre and the LDF has produced four papers in international peer reviewed journals in the last six months. The LDF project, led by Professor Paul Furlong involves the funding of “scanning hours”, allowing the grant to cover a wide range of studies concerning neurological research in humans.

Pictured, The fMRI scanner at Aston University.

The group has been studying visual processing and perception in humans, and are increasingly able to characterise neural network activity in ways previously only thought possible using invasive methods. The studies focus on how, despite distinct visual areas in the brain, we have a unified perceptual view of the world. This research is important as it may provide an insight into consciousness itself.

Using (magnetoencephalography) MEG and (functional magnetic resonance imaging) fMRI, the team studied the synchronisation of different neurons and the role of low frequency electrical brain activity that occurs during visual processing. They concluded that the changes in the electrical activity “may relate principally to changes in visual attention”.


The neurodevelopment and clinical research seeks to apply basic research to clinical issues, and find replacements for experiments on animals. It improves understanding of brain changes during development – studying neuro-developmental disorders facilitates the development of diagnostic and treatment strategies. Studying brain changes and linking them to behaviour through non-invasive, integrated research allows the study of the cognition and development elements unique to humans.

Pictured, The MEG scanner at Aston University.

The neuroimaging group have carried out pain research in humans with interesting results. Brain regions associated with pain were studied in healthy patients during a visceral pain experiment. Anatomical MRIs were obtained, then baseline, anticipation, pain and post-pain phases were studied using MEG. The results provided new findings about the functions of several pain associated brain regions and showed that the detailed study of pain systems in humans is made possible by combining imaging techniques.

Pharmacokinetic research at the centre has resulted in the publishing of important data “highlighting the value and importance of neuroimaging techniques to determine the nature and extent of cortical areas of drug interaction in health and disease”.

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