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B.A. 2010, Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Thesis Advisor: A.M Barrett, M.D.
Department of Neurology & Neurosciences
Sunday, April 26, 2015
11:00 A.M., Medical Science Building, B-554
The main objective of this dissertation is to identify the stimulus-driven, subcortical-cortical mechanisms underlying spatial-motor intention, and their role in pathological spatial bias seen in patients with chronic spatial neglect. Normal spatial processing in humans requires an unbiased awareness of the right and left hemispace (perception-attention), an intact internal map or spatial referential knowledge (representation) and plans for initiating and executing symmetric movements (motor-intention). Right hemispheric strokes can cause a dysfunction in the brain networks underlying these stages, leading to functional disabilities in grooming, toileting, driving, and other activities of daily living that prolong hospital stays and adversely affect stroke recovery. Despite recent advances, our understanding of how these networks contribute to the induction and resolution of spatial bias in patients with right hemispheric stroke remains rudimentary, thereby precluding the development of standardized biological therapies. This thesis will perform a focused investigation into subcortical-cortical brain networks underlying spatial-motor intention, and present evidence that experimental manipulation of these networks can reduce spatial bias and enhance rehabilitation outcomes.
In this dissertation, I successfully associated improvements in motor intentional spatial bias with reduced asymmetry in the activation of bottom-up spatial-motor networks. In future studies, I wish to acknowledge the limitations, and further investigate how similar asymmetry can be achieved with clinical radioablation, deep brain stimulation or other biological therapies.