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Investigating cerebrovascular health and functional plasticity using quantitative FMRI

Foster, Catherine ORCID: 2017. Investigating cerebrovascular health and functional plasticity using quantitative FMRI. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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A healthy cerebrovasculature is necessary to maintain optimal levels of blood flow and oxygen metabolism required for overall brain health. Cerebrovascular health also promotes functional plasticity which facilitates lifelong adaptation with experience and recovery following injury. In diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), there is known vascular and metabolic dysfunction, however, patients retain variable levels of functional plasticity which aids recovery following acute bouts of inflammation. Physical exercise interventions, aimed at improving cerebral blood flow and oxygen metabolism, present a potential avenue for improving patient outcomes and slowing the progression of disability. However, there is a lack of mechanistic understanding of i) brain energetic processes underlying plasticity and ii) how aerobic fitness (AF), which is linked to increased brain plasticity, benefits brain vascular and metabolic function. The work presented in this thesis uses arterial spin labelling (ASL) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to quantitatively characterise the vascular and metabolic processes associated with functional brain plasticity, and the effects of AF on the brain’s functional capacity in healthy adults. This thesis begins with an overview of the neurobiological processes of interest and fMRI techniques that can quantify these processes. Next, a comparison of common ASL acquisition and analysis procedures is made to establish the most appropriate methods for subsequent experimental work. Chapters 4 and 5 investigate the effects of AF on cerebrovascular function in healthy adults. Chapter 6 then gives an overview of existing functional motor plasticity work, before Chapters 7 and 8 which quantify vascular and metabolic adaptations following motor training in the healthy brain. Chapter 9, presents preliminary work in an MS cohort, applying methods from previous chapters to quantify vascular and metabolic differences between patients and controls. The general discussion in Chapter 10 summarises the main findings and contributions of this work and key areas for future research are outlined.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Funders: Wellcome Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 2 March 2018
Date of Acceptance: 1 March 2018
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2024 04:31

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