Joana Loureiro

Alumni of the Department High-Field Magnetic Resonance

Main Focus

We are exploiting the potential of UHF imaging for submillimetre fMRI in a series of experiments addressing the functional organisation of the human superior colliculi.

There are three reasons why we chose this anatomical structure for our project:

1) the anatomical architecture of the tectum calls for high-resolution imaging to distinguish between the functional properties of individual layers,

2) from monkey studies there is a good knowledge about the functional properties that should be found, so we have very clear working hypotheses for our individual experiments,

3) although we have all this detailed knowledge from non-human primates, virtually nothing has been confirmed in humans. In fact, for most other structures of the brainstem it is rather unclear whether the functional anatomy is indeed almost identical with the organisation in macaques or whether there are substantial differences. Some recent work published by neuroanatomist showed that more differences might exist than we thought.

The project's specific aims are threefold: establishing anatomical sequences that allow us to identify brainstem nuclei with isotropic submillimeter resolution; establishing functional sequences to acquire blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) signals with isotropic submillimeter resolution in the brainstem; detecting BOLD signals induced by visual stimulation, auditory stimulation and oculomotor activity in the superior colliculi (SC) using slow event-related designs. We strive for a localisation of induced signals in terms of different layers of the superior colliculi in a representative group study.

Starting on January 2015 this project will be funded by the Carl Zeiss Stiftung ( and it was previously funded by the Centre for Integrative Neurosciences in Tuebingen (CIN).

Curriculum Vitae

Current Position: Anatomy and Functional MRI of the Human Midbrain at 9,4T, MPI for Biological Cybernetics and UKT, Tuebingen, Germany

Development and Application of Advanced Techniques to Study Cerebral Human Connectivity in Rest: DMN identification in Schizophrenic patients and healthy control subjects using fMRI with Independent Component Analysis (ICA), Institute of Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering (IBEB), Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon.

Five year program (BSc + MSc) in Biomedical Engineering and Biophysics (Lisbon University):

MR Elastography: Design and Implementation of a Clinical Tool (MSc. Thesis), Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, University of Cambridge.

Optimization and validation of Brain State Classification in Vegetative State Patients (BSc. Thesis), Wolfson Brain Imaging Centre, University of Cambridge.

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