Vision

 

Promote dedicated clinical research into the use of state-of-the-art brain imaging and modulation methods that will serve to create a new brain-targeted and patient-specific therapeutic setup for neuropsychiatric patients, especially chronic pain patients.

Objectives

 

Characterize brain processes supporting conscious awareness and subjective experience in healthy individuals.

 

Characterize brain processes supporting conscious awareness and subjective experience in patients with chronic disorders of consciousness as well as in altered states of consciousness (pain, sleep, meditation, dissociation etc.).

 

Examine the way in which certain medications can rapidly change first person (usually aversive) subjective experiences, e.g. Ketamine in major depression and Cannabis in chronic pain.

 

Test the neural and clinical effects of different noninvasive brain modulation methods in patients with chronic pain.

Methods 

  • Behavioral assessments using clinical interviews, validated questionnaires and experimental (mostly computerized) paradigms.

  • Physiological and Neurophysiological testing – targeted clinical and laboratory assessment, heart rate variability, skin conductance, pupil diameter etc. 

 

  • Advanced functional neuroimaging – to assess neuronal activity in response to specific stimuli or during resting state - EEG and functional MRI.

 

  • Pahrmaco-fMRI – Using advanced in-vivo functional neuroimaging to assess the modulation induced in different brain networks by drugs targeting the central nervous system in healthy volunteers and in patients with neuropsychiatric diseases.

 

  • Noninvasive brain stimulation – magnetic stimulation (rTMS) or electric stimulation (tDCS and tACS) applied to targeted brain areas; EEG and fMRI based Neurofeedback – a method that teaches the patient how to modulate specific cortical, as well as subcortical brain areas.

Uniqueness

The unique combination of advanced anatomic and functional neuroimaging with multimodal active modulation targeting different brain areas in patients suffering from chronic multifactorial brain diseases that are physically and mentally debilitating, provides a rare opportunity to conduct causal studies as well as explore novel clinical applications.

Dr. Sharon's current work combines research into what builds the subjective experience of the self in health and disease. He is especially interested in the neurobiology of pain and methods that can rapidly change this aversive experience in a noninvasive, brain-focused and patient-tailored manner. To that aim he combines advanced functional brain imaging, pharmacotherapy and noninvasive brain stimulation and modulation techniques in healthy individuals and in patients.

Dr. Sharon leads the #Consciousness & Psychopharmacolog research team at the Sagol Brain Institute.

DR. HAGGAI SHARON (MD)