The group’s MAGSTIM transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) unit funded by the St Joseph’s Health Care Foundation is used to stimulate the brain using a figure eight coil (left) and integrated ANT neuronavigation system (right) allows real time visualization of the induced electric impulses generated in the targeted cortical regions.
Pictured, left to right: Dr. Frank Prato, Imaging Program Leader and Assistant Scientific Director of Lawson, and Dr. Julien Modolo, former Postdoctoral Scholar with Dr. Legros and now Scientist at INSERM in Rennes, France.
The Bioelectromagnetics and Human Threshold Research Group at Lawson Health Research Institute has an international reputation and expertise on human brain response to time-varying magnetic fields (MFs). This pioneering research has inspired an international collaboration to duplicate Lawson Imaging’s unique experimental expertise in Europe.
The team is now working with EuroMov, a research centre located in France, to duplicate the scientific approach and techniques in a new lab. The goal is to double research capabilities and further stimulate scientific knowledge in this area.
Fluctuating MF induces electric fields and currents in conductive tissues. Above a certain threshold, these fields and currents will change the physiological electric activity within neuronal tissues. Lawson’s team is currently the only one in the world stimulating participants with power-frequency MF of sufficient intensity to result in acute neurophysiological response. This can involve interferences with visual perception, motor output and other cognitive functions.
“An international synergy between the Bioelectromagnetics and Human Threshold Research Group at Lawson and EuroMov will increase the scope of scientific expertise for both institutions” explains Dr. Legros, Director of Bioelectromagnetics and the Human Threshold Research Group at Lawson Imaging. “Both will have access to a wide range of brain stimulation techniques and imaging modalities.”
Through this new collaboration, researchers are excited to merge their expertise and tackle questions together, opening new avenues for original research ideas and projects. This new intercontinental synergy also increases the scope of options for academic funding and international training programs for students.
Furthermore, there is great potential for reinforcing and extending the group’s industry-partnered supporting program, which already associates industry sponsors (such as Hydro-Québec, Électricité De France, Réseau de Transport d’Électricité, NationalGrid/Energy Network Association, Electric Power Research Institute) under an international consortium: the Utilities Threshold Initiative Consortium (UTIC).
The growing network of international scientists working in this field assist international regulation agencies, governments and industries to better understand the impact of electromagnetic exposure on brain activity and physical behaviour. Knowing the thresholds for human responses allows these institutions to adjust their recommendations and policies for when exposures could become unsafe for the public and workers.
The potential applications in research, industry and health care are vast, including the world of video gaming and virtual reality!
“We are excited to see discovered effects and mechanisms translated towards therapeutic applications to the benefit of patients,” says Dr. Legros. “For example, we could improve neuromodulation and neurostimulation technologies to better address movement disorders such as in Parkinson’s Disease. In another application, knowledge of the vestibular responses to stimulation may help to manage symptoms such as motion sickness.”
EuroMov is a university-based European centre for research and innovation in the science of movement. Conducting both fundamental and clinical research, it proposes innovative technological solutions allowing the capture, simulation, learning and rehabilitation of movement. EuroMov contributes to the creation of innovative starts ups and businesses in the field of health, performance, sport, human factors, and rehabilitation.
Dr. Legros is also an Associate Professor in the Departments of Medical Biophysics, Medical Imaging and Kinesiology at Western University’s School of Kinesiology, and an Associate Scientist at EuroMov.
Find out more about his research:
Above: Members of the Bioelectromagnetics and Human Threshold Research Group at Lawson.
From left to right, bottom: Shirin Davarpanah Jazi, Postdoctoral Scholar; Alicia Allen, Masters Candidate; Cadence Maureen Baker, Masters Candidate.
From left to right, top: Michael Corbacio, RA/Lab Manager); Dr. Alexandre Legros, Principal Investigator and group leader; Sebastien Villard, Postdoctoral Scholar.
Missing from the photo: Nicolas Bouisset, PhD Candidate; Lynn Keenliside; Manager Technical Services.