Behavioral Neurology Research Unit

Kaisa M. Hartikainen

Behavioral Neurology Research Unit at the Tampere University Hospital aims to promote scientific knowledge on the effects of brain damage or dysfunction on human mind. The Behavioral Neurology Research Unit has been established in the beginning of 2012 by Dr. Hartikainen with funding from the Academy of Finland administered by the Science Center of Pirkanmaa Hospital District. The facility is equipped with advanced neurophysiological brain research tools such as 64 channel active electrode EEG equipment. The research facility is located in Finmedi 6 connected to the Tampere University Hospital main building allowing excellent access to neurologic populations.

Aims

Behavioral Neurology Research Unit investigates brain circuitries and dynamics behind cognition, emotion and behaviour and how these functions are altered in brain damage or disorder. We apply theories and methods from the fields of cognitive and affective neuroscience, experimental psychology and neurology. The general aim of the behavioural neurology research group is to provide more comprehensive knowledge on 1) brain circuitries behind emotional and behavioral control functions, 2) how these functions are disrupted in neurological, neurosurgical or psychiatric damage or disorder and 3) how treatment that directly interacts with brain circuitries known to be important for cognitive, emotional and behavioral control functions such as deep brain stimulation affects these functions 4) Furthermore we aim to advance technological developments for better diagnostic tools in cognitive, affective and behavioral impairment. The long-term goal is to provide strong scientific background for clinical assessments, and personally tailored treatment and rehabilitation plans for neurological, neurosurgical and psychiatric patients whose disease, damage or disorder impacts the mind. We further intent to promote the field of behavioural neurology and increase public awareness on the effects of brain damage or disorder on human mind.

Methods

We use behavioral (performance in cognitive and affective tasks), physiological (brain’s electrical activity, EEG) and anatomical methods (imaging methods (MRI, DTI) and lesion method, i.e. patients with lesion to a specific brain area due to stroke, tumor or trauma). Combining behavioral methods with electrophysiology allows detailed insight into the dynamics and circuitries involved in integrating emotion, attention and behavior. Furthermore the lesion method reveals what are the consequences on brain physiology as well as behavior when part of this circuitry is disrupted.

Collaboration

Research conducted in the Behavioral Neurology Research Unit is multidisciplinary requiring collaborative efforts from clinicians and researchers in the fields of psychology (clinical neuropsychology, cognitive psychology), engineering (signal processing, biomedical engineering) and medicine (neurology, neuropsychiatry, neurosurgery, neuroradiology, cardiology, anaesthesiology) from national and international academic institutions. Research network comprises of clinicians and researchers in Tampere University Hospital, Tampere University of Technology as well as in University of California, Berkeley, and Saint Mary’s College of California. Long standing international collaborators include: Professor of Psychology Keith H. Ogawa, John Magaddino Neuroscience Laboratory, Saint Mary’s College of California, Moraga, California and Professor Robert T. Knight, Head of Helen Wills Neuroscience Center, University of California Berkeley.