Brain imaging has made great strides in understanding the mechanisms of normal human brain function, and the changes associated with brain and mental illness. However, this work has been mostly observational, obtaining correlations that cannot be used to prove causation, and with limited direct benefits for patients.
Brain stimulation has shown early promise for improving human behavior and reducing symptoms of brain and mental illness, and also for testing hypotheses derived from brain imaging data. However, it is still mostly empirical, with little understanding of its underlying mechanisms, or of methods to optimize its effects. Some recent failures of clinical trials using DBS to reduce depression suggest that we still have much to learn.
The combination of brain imaging and stimulation could lead to many advances in both fields, providing a better understanding of human brain organization, optimization of neuroenhancement in healthy people, an improved understanding of the mechanisms of neurostimulation, and improved treatments for brain and mental illness.
BrainSTIM 2015 was one of the first meetings to focus on the combination of brain imaging and stimulation. This meeting had over 120 attendees, six wonderful keynote speakers and 17 speakers in four oral sessions derived from submitted abstracts. BrainSTIM2016 had over 150 attendees.
Like its predecessors, BrainSTIM 2017 will focus on the combination of brain imaging and stimulation. The meeting will have keynote lectures by leaders in the fields of imaging and stimulation, oral sessions selected from submitted abstracts, poster sessions and other opportunities to network. The meeting is designed to inform and educate all who are interested in these topics, from novices to experts.
The combination of brain stimulation and imaging may lead to better tests of causal hypotheses of brain function, a better understanding of the neural mechanisms of cognition and of brain stimulation, new methods to optimize brain stimulation and many other benefits.