The Neu3CA research program

Neu3CA stands for ‚Äúneurodegeneration, neuronal networks and neuromodulation in (epilepsy-induced) accelerated cognitive aging‚ÄĚ. It is an international and multi-disciplinary research and innovation program that tries to understand how complex brain functions and associated brain networks are compromised in brain diseases, and how this may be treated. These impairments may be related to epilepsy, neurovascular disorders, metabolic causes (diabetes), psychiatric complaints (major depressive disorder; MDD), stoke, brain tumors, etc. Our partners are both clinical and technical, comprising academics as well as industry.

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We especially focus on accelerated cognitive aging, which occurs in several brain diseases, amongst others in epilepsy. Our findings may actually be more generally applicable, i.e. to preserve cognitive functioning in the general (healthy) aging population. Cognitive wellbeing is highly important in our highly dynamic and information-rich society, as well as in the light of trends as prolonged job participation and a demand for extended self-reliance and extra-mural care.

More specifically, within Neu3ca we study brain networks using advanced neuroimaging, e.g. functional MRI to study brain activity and diffusion-weighted imaging to visualize nerve pathways within the brain. Thus, we may identify abnormalities in brain connections or brain network organization which are specific to cognitive problems.

Having identified these brain abnormalities, we aim to treat them using a variety of neuromodulation methods, for example transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) or fMRI neurofeedback.