Rogier B. Mars
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Rogier B. Mars
My research focuses on understanding how areas of the brain are connected and how they communicate. I try to find out which brain areas talk to each other in the human brain and compare that to the brains of non-human primates, so that I can understand how our brain got to be organized the way it is.
We now increasingly realise that in order to understand how the brain produces behaviour should not only try to understand how each individual brain region works, but also how all the different parts of the brain integrate their work. Many neurological and psychiatric diseases are now thought to be due to a break-down in the communication between brain areas.
Most or our understanding of the communication between brain areas is based on work over the past decades in non-human primates. However, we do not know how well this work translates to the human brain. By comparing the architecture of brain connections across a number of different primate species, I try to understand similarities and differences in the 'wiring diagrams' of these brains and understand how any differences between brains relate to differences in behaviour between species. In order to do this, I use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based methods to study brain organization either non-invasively or in post-mortem samples.
Translating this work to the human brain, I use non-invasive transcranial magnetic stimulation in combination with diffusion MRI to study how different brain connections influence the communication between the areas they connect. This allows me to directly probe the importance of brain connections on behaviour.
Together, this work at the intersection of comparative and cognitive neuroscience allows a unique perspective on the primate--specifically human--brain.