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Transcranial magnetic stimulation pioneers receive research awards

The Magstim Company : 11 June, 2008  (Company News)
Researchers using Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) techniques presented pioneering research on the theme of Plasticity and Rehabilitation at the Magstim Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Summer School 2008 held at the Institute of Child Health in London on 30 and 31 May, 2008.
The researchers are exploring the ways in which magnetic stimulation can be utilised in the diagnosis and treatment of a number of neurological conditions.

The Summer School, organised in collaboration with Professor Vincent Walsh of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, University College London (UCL), was attended by over 300 registered delegates. The two-day scientific programme saw presentations from 16 eminent international academics and researchers, and there was an opportunity for the upcoming generation of researchers to pose questions to some of the most prominent pioneers in the field.

The event was sponsored by Magstim, specialists in the field of neuromodulation and nerve monitoring, which also launched its new tDCS (Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation) device at the event, and previewed new equipment that will be introduced in the coming months.

As part of an ongoing commitment to research, Magstim sponsored two academic prizes at the event. Dr Marco Davare of UCL won the Magstim Young Investigator Award 2008 for his research into how the brain precisely controls hand movements. The Poster Prize was won by PhD student Niamh Kennedy of Queen's University Belfast for her work on the effect of simultaneous contractions of ipsilateral muscles on changes in corticospinal excitability induced by paired associative stimulation.

Both prizes were judged by a panel of leading experts connected with the Summer School, with Dr Davare and Ms Kennedy winning £500 and £250 respectively. Both awards recognise the scientific research of those working with magnetic stimulation within the fields of Neuroscience and Neurology.

Dr Marco Davare, University College London (UCL), Institute of Neurology, Sobell Dept of Motor Neuroscience and Movement Disorders has been awarded the Magstim Young Investigator Award 2008 for his work studying how the brain controls skilled hand movements. Dr Davare hopes to gain a better understanding of these motor mechanisms in order to help people with neurological conditions who have difficulties carrying out everyday tasks involving their hands. Using TMS as a technique to induce transient ‘virtual lesions’ in healthy volunteers, Dr Davare is looking for a direct causal relationship between a ‘lesion’ of a precise part of the brain and its role in controlling movement performance.

“The TMS Summer School was a great opportunity to learn the very new techniques for stimulating the brain. It is also an important place in which we can meet and discuss with people directly involved in the same research field,” commented Dr Marco Davare after being awarded. “It is also a way for us ‘young scientists’ to be better known by the research community.”

For the first year at the conference, a Poster session was run during the Summer School, generating more than 20 international entries.

From the high calibre of research presented, PhD student Niamh Kennedy, Queen’s University Belfast, School of Psychology was awarded the Poster Prize for her Poster on the effect of simultaneous contractions of ipsilateral muscles on changes in corticospinal excitability induced by paired associative stimulation (PAS). Niamh’s study investigates methods of non-invasive stimulation (PAS) that effectively and reliably induce plasticity in projections to arm muscles. The intention is that the most effective method of non-invasive stimulation for manipulating plasticity will be combined with a movement based technique to prime the brain before more established rehabilitation techniques are used in a stroke population.

“The standard of submissions for both awards this year was exceptionally high and it is encouraging to see so many young researchers enthusiastic about advancing magnetic stimulation techniques,” commented professor Vincent Walsh, Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, UCL, member of the awarding committee for both prizes. “We are grateful to Magstim for sponsoring the Summer School and for giving up-and-coming researchers another opportunity to be recognised within their research community.”

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