Associate Professor Jo Fielding and team at Monash have expressed their sincere gratitude for every dollar someone donates to this research. They feel that there is a great need to understand the underlying cause of Visual Snow so we know precisely what is causing it and what are effective treatments to eliminate or sustainably relieve the patient's condition. Without funding, the work stops as allocated staff needs to work on other funded projects not related to Visual Snow, as scanning and analysis services are costly.
Using a novel assessment of ocular motor (OM) function, my group has identified for the first-time world-wide a unique OM signature of visual processing changes in VSS, from which we hope to develop a means to assist with diagnostic certainty and a means to measure the efficacy of any future treatment.
However, determining effective treatments depends crucially upon understanding a disorder’s underlying neuropathology. Here, our OM signature may serve another important role – providing a quantifiable behaviour that may be interrogated using in vivo neurophysiological techniques.
THIS RESEARCH: will investigate the mechanism of disruption in VSS using measures of brain function while the brain is at rest and while actively processing and responding to visual information. This will be guided by our unique VSS OM signature and previously proposed changes to thalamo-cortical processing]. Broadly speaking, the thalamus is a set of nuclei located at the centre of the brain that relays sensory information to the outer layers of the brain (cortex).
Aim 1. Characterise thalamo-cortical processing changes in VSS using resting state electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). I have commenced the MRI arm of this study, collecting high resolution anatomical and resting-state fMRI data for >40 VSS patients using a Siemens 7 Tesla MRI. Preliminary analyses reveal widespread changes in neuroanatomy and network connectivity. Using EEG, my group will explore whole brain electrical changes consistent with thalamo-cortical changes.
Aim 2. Identify functional changes between the thalamus and cortex using task-based EEG and MRI guided by our unique VSS OM signature. These studies will be task based, specifically exploring changes in brain activation while patients engage in the OM tasks that underlie characterisation of our VSS OM signature.