MEG Research Director, Dell Children's Medical Center
Associate Research Professor, Department of Psychology, UT Austin
Magnetoencephalography (MEG) is a non-invasive neurophysiology recording technique that allows for estimating sources of cortical brain activity with a high degree of spatial and temporal resolution, the most recent advances in signal processing allowing for whole brain reconstruction of large-scale brain dynamics.
Dr. Paul Ferrari is a magnetoencephalography (MEG) scientist and clinical applications specialist with over 20 years of experience. He has a multi-disciplinary background in cognitive neuroscience using multiple non-invasive modalities with particular expertise in experimental design, peripheral hardware integration, signal processing, and applying and analyzing MEG source reconstructions. He obtained his doctoral degree in Dynamical Systems and Brain Sciences from Florida Atlantic University, where he used MEG to study the integration and overlap of sensorimotor and auditory networks during sensorimotor coordination. He has directed the Meadowlands Hospital MEG unit in New Jersey and served as the MEG clinical specialist for New York University’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. He’s now a Research Associate Professor of Psychology at UT Austin and functions as the MEG Research Director at Dell Children’s MEG Center, where he performs clinical service and oversees MEG research services which supports multiple collaborative projects across a number of basic research and clinical disciplines.
Clinical MEG: Presurgical non-invasive mapping of functional and disordered brain areas play a critical role for neurosurgical planning both for localizing sources of epilepsy and mapping functional cortex. I am currently collaborating with epilepsy and neurosurgical teams to investigate the utility of MEG based distributed source localization methods and multivariate data analysis pipelines to both improve the reliability and sensitivity of MEG presurgical mapping as well as extend their use for discovering epilepsy networks and their relationship to abnormal brain function as well as its recovery or reorganization in epilepsy and tumor patients.
Oral-motor speech: Motor related neural processes related to oral-motor and speech-motor production remain difficult to study non-invasively, owing mostly to movement artifacts. In previous work I developed a method for jaw tracking and designed and carried out a MEG study of increasing complex oral-motor and speech production tasks, made possible by MEG beamforming, a specific type of source reconstruction spatial filter. Currently the Dell Children’s MEG lab is extending this work by partnering with Dr. Jun Wang at UT Dallas who wants to use MEG to predicting speech intention from brain signals for the purposes of creating brain computer interfaces for immobile patients such as those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS. We are also testing paradigms that we hope can be used to provide early diagnosis of corticobulbar vs corticospinal onset in ALS.
Neurofeedback: In collaboration with CARE faculty, Larry Abraham, David Schnyer, and James Sulzer, Dr. Mark McManis (Clinical MEG director) are carrying out studies of visuomotor control with the aim to incorporate real-time neurofeedback for guiding patients to improve fine motor control. The goal of this study is to first understand the interplay between the different stages of performing complex movement tasks and their corresponding neural activity, and second to shape this activity via neuro-feedback to investigate whether subjects can improve their performance during specific difficult stages of the task.
Other Collaborations: Other ongoing studies involve studying affective/emotional regulation in health and disease, investigating the neural correlates of fatigue and it’s improvement due to exercise in multiple sclerosis patients, and using simultaneous MEG-functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) to understand neurovascular coupling to improve BOLD based neuromonitoring devices. Recently, we have acquired transcranial magnetic stimulation and look forward to starting clinical and pure research studies in neuro-stimulation for brain mapping and neuro-motor and neuro-cognitive rehabilitation. The MEG lab at Dell children’s hospital welcomes those interested in collaboration. Please contact Dr. Ferrari at email@example.com.