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Lau Møller Andersen receives funding from Carlsberg Foundation

CFIN researcher Lau Møller Andersen has received funding for a postdoc project on: "The Cerebellar Clock: Predicting the Present"


"The Cerebellar Clock: Predicting the Present" 

Lau Møller Andersen, PhD

The project is about how it comes about that humans are so adapt at predicting what is going to happen next and when it is going to happen? In the project Lau Møller Andersen will venture the notion that the cerebellum functions as an internal clock for recognizing regularities and keeping behavior up to date with the environment.

The functions of the cerebellum are understudied even though evidence is amounting that the cerebellum is widely involved in cognition. Especially its timing aspects have been understudied since earlier studies have relied on slow imaging modalities such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Learning if and how the cerebellum works as an internal clock monitoring the environment is important both from the perspective of basic science, but also from that of clinical science. Many movement disorders may be related to wrongful prediction of the environment, and present-day neuroscience is permeated by theories about how sensation and prediction may be two sides of the same coin. The results from this project are likely to inform both strands of science, basic and clinical.

The research will be conducted by testing healthy participants with MEG (magnetoencephalography). Using this tool, it is possible to study the timing aspect very precisely, since MEG measures and tracks changes in brain activity up to more than 5,000 times per second. Lau Møller Andersen will collaborate with Professor Hämäläinen from Harvard University and Associate Professor Sarang Dalal from Aarhus University, applying their cutting-edge methods on how to find activity in the cerebellum using MEG. Firstly by using a highly detailed model of the cerebellum based on ultra-high resolution ex vivo data, which allows for more precise source localization, secondly by using a technique that suppresses cortical activity, thus leaving activity originating from the cerebellum, and thirdly and finally by constraining source orientation using diffusion measures.

The collaboration with Professor Matti Hämäläinen from Harvard University will not only allow accurate determination of cerebellar expectations, long thought out of reach for MEG, but will also bring cutting-edge methods and knowledge to Danish neuroscience. This project may thus redefine the MEG field by demonstrating the viability of the cerebellum as a target for MEG, opening up new fields of study for both healthy and patient populations. It may also produce new knowledge for patients suffering from Cerebellar Degeneration, Parkinson’s Disease, and Essential Tremor.

The project will start up in September 2019.