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Revolutionizing Brain Plasticity Through Advanced Science, Engineering, and Medicine

rubiks cube from conference poster


Through scientific discovery and technological innovation, this symposium provides a hub for basic and translational research that aims to measure, model, and elicit brain plasticity. It promotes interdisciplinary studies of the neurobiological foundations of brain plasticity and innovative methods and technologies to drive neural plasticity through the application of cognitive training, non-invasive brain stimulation, physical fitness training, mindfulness meditation, and nutrition, among others. It also encourages clinical trials that investigate science and technology that aims to mitigate or reverse the effects of cognitive aging, traumatic brain injury, stroke, and neurological disease. This symposium also builds upon the incredible wealth of plasticity research and data at the University of Illinois to provide a nexus for future long-term university-wide collaborations. It will bring together the plasticity community by drawing on the interdisciplinary strengths of the University of Illinois, the Beckman Institute (especially the newly formed Intelligence, Learning, and Plasticity community), the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Institute, the Center for Brain Plasticity, and the Carle Foundation Hospital, to support and foster an environment rich in intellectual, technological, and information resources dedicated to the study of brain plasticity.


Speaker Biographies

Jocelyn Faubert, NeuroTracker

Jocelyn Faubert is a Professor and Directeur Adjoint (the equivalent of vice dean) of Research and Graduate Studies at the School of Optometry of Université de Montréal. He also holds the NSERC-Essilor Industrial Research Chair on Visual Function. His research interests are diverse, dealing from low- to high-level perceptual and cognitive processing, human performance, development, aging, optics, and photonics spanning from a fundamental perspective to translational research. He has 12 distinct patents spanning from biophotonics, brain imaging, optical designs, and behavioral procedural methods for which the great majority have been licensed or sold to companies such as Essilor, CogniSens, and Annidis Health.

He was also a founder of two spin-off companies (Ophtalox and CogniSens) and recently a not-for-profit organization “The NeuroTracker Applied Research Center” that is focused on the translational research related to the use of the NeuroTracker System and other technologies originally developed in his laboratory. The NeuroTracker system is now deployed globally on all the main continents and has close to 400,000 individual’s users worldwide. Regarding performance, it is used in most of the major sports leagues such as the NHL (Hockey), NBA (Basketball), NFL (American football), EPL (Soccer), Top 14 (Rugby), and most of the Special Forces in the U.S. military such as the Navy Seals Special Operations. Numerous universities and medical centers around the world now also use the NeuroTracker system for various uses.

Sanmi Koyejo, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Sanmi (Oluwasanmi) Koyejo is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Koyejo’s research interests are in the development and analysis of probabilistic and statistical machine learning techniques motivated by and applied to various modern big data problems. He is particularly interested in the analysis of large-scale neuroimaging data.

Koyejo completed his PhD in Electrical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin (advised by Joydeep Ghosh), and completed postdoctoral research at Stanford University with a focus on developing machine-learning techniques for neuroimaging data. His postdoctoral research was primarily with Russell A. Poldrack and Pradeep Ravikumar. Koyejo has been the recipient of several awards including the outstanding NCE/ECE student award, a best student paper award from the Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence, and a trainee award from the Organization for Human Brain Mapping.

Peter Bandettini, National Institute of Mental Health

Dr. Bandettini is Chief of the Section on Functional Imaging Methods in the Laboratory of Brain and Cognition of the Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health. He is also the Functional MRI Core Facility Director, which provides functional MRI support to NIMH, NINDS, and several other institutes at the NIMH. He received his BS in Physics from Marquette University in 1989 and his PhD in Biophysics from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1994, where he pioneered the development of Functional MRI (fMRI). During his postdoc at the Massachusetts General Hospital, he continued his work on cutting-edge fMRI methods development. In 1999, he joined NIMH as a tenure-track investigator and a core facility director. In 2002, he received the Wiley Young Investigator Award. In 2001 and 2007 he received the NIMH Director’s Merit Award for his work in creating and maintaining the FMRIF. In 2012, he received the NIMH Outstanding Mentor Award. In 2006, he was president of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping. He is Editor-in-Chief of NeuroImage and has published over 110 peer-reviewed papers, 18 book chapters, 1 book, has 1 patent, and has presented over 250 invited lectures. His work has been cited over 10,000 times.

David Van Essen, Washington University in St. Louis

David Van Essen is currently Alumni Endowed Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Washington University in St. Louis. He has served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Neuroscience, founding chair of the Organization for Human Brain Mapping, and President of the Society for Neuroscience. He is a fellow of the AAAS and has received the Peter Raven Lifetime Achievement Award from the St. Louis Academy of Science and the Krieg Cortical Discoverer Award from the Cajal Club. Dr. Van Essen received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry in 1967 from Caltech and his graduate degree in neurobiology in 1971 from Harvard. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard under Drs. David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel and did additional postdoctoral work in Norway and England before returning to Caltech in 1976. For two decades (1992-2013) he served as Head of the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology at Washington University.

Dr. Van Essen is internationally known for his research on the structure, function, connectivity, and development of cerebral cortex in humans and nonhuman primates. He and his colleagues have developed powerful methods of computerized brain mapping, with a particular emphasis on surface-based visualization and analysis of cerebral cortex. He has been a pioneer in neuroinformatics and data sharing efforts for nearly two decades. His tension-based theory of morphogenesis accounts for how and why the cortex gets its folds. He has also contributed to our understanding of the functional and hierarchical organization of primate visual cortex. He is currently the principal investigator for the Human Connectome Project (HCP), an ambitious endeavor to map brain function and connectivity in healthy adults. The HCP is setting new standards for sharing rich and complex neuroimaging datasets with the scientific community.


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Illinois 150: The 21st Century Research University and the Public Good by Kevin Hamilton, Paul Michael Leonardo Atienza, Jessica Harless, Kelsey Hassevoort, Robin Holland, Marcelo Boccato Kuyumjian, Allison LaHood, Beatriz Esmeralda Maldonado, Robert M Rouphail, Majid Shafiee-Jood, Lettycia Terrones, and Kevin Wallington is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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