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AT-NCIGT - The National Center for Advanced Technologies for Image Guided Therapy

Assaf Tal, PhD: From Function to Cognition: New Spectroscopic Tools for Studying Brain Neurochemistry In-Vivo

Assaf Tal

Assaf Tal, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemical and Biological Physics
Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel


In this seminar, I will present new methods in magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) we’ve been working on in the lab. The talk will be divided into two parts. In the first, I will talk about neurochemical changes we observe in glutamate and GABA during various paradigms, including simple motors tasks and reinforcement learning. In the second part, I’ll present a new approach to MRS that focuses on measuring the relaxation times (T1, T2) of metabolites, which reflect changes to specific cellular microenvironments. I will explain why these can be exciting markers for studying several in-vivo pathologies, and also present some preliminary data from a cohort of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) patients, showing changes that correlate to cognitive decline.

Short Bio

Assaf is an Assistant Professor at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. He has completed his BSc in physics in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and MSc in Physics at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. His PhD at the lab of Prof. Lucio Frydman at the Weizmann Institute focused on developing fast sequences for liquid state spectroscopy and imaging, including laying the foundations for SPEN. He has spent a four year period at NYU Medical Center as a post-doctoral researcher in the lab of Oded Gonen, where he transitioned to in-vivo spectroscopy (MRS), and has worked on new acquisition and processing methods for studying mild traumatic brain injury and multiple sclerosis. He has been an Assistant Professor at the Weizmann Institute since 2014. His lab currently focuses on understanding neurochemical changes to the brain during functional activation (functional spectroscopy), and creating multiparametric, dictionary-based acquisitions for MRS.

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