Researchers at Ulster University have made a major discovery that could help medical professionals globally to better understand and treat brain disorders, such as stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.

They have found how to measure the speed and direction of visual signals between parts of the brain in a world first.

Computer science experts at Ulster University, in partnership with Trinity College Dublin, used 3D computer modelling of the brain to explore the speed and pathway that visual signals travel from the optical lobe, the part of the brain that first interprets what we see, to the frontal, parietal and temporal lobes, which process more complex cognition such as decision-making.

‘This Ulster University research lays an important foundation for better understanding of the human visual system,’ said lead researcher, Dr KongFatt Wong-Lin from UU. ‘Due to the generality of the method, it can be used to understand other sensory or cognitive processing. It also provides us with a new, scientific method to identify areas of the brain that are dysfunctional.

‘As a potential clinical application, stroke sufferers can have brain functional pathways that are effectively blocked or redirected, and thereby changing their cognitive processing. This method may be used to identify specific pathway alterations of individuals, and hence providing more precise treatments, for example, through specific rehabilitation or neuro feedback.’

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