The Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre is a cross-disciplinary centre drawing together a dynamic range of researchers from the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, and the Schools of Psychology, Life Sciences, and Informatics at the University of Sussex. Outlined below are our key research areas and associated faculty.
MRI Technique Development
Quantitative MRI uses the scanner as a measurement tool to identify subtle in vivo changes that are often invisible to conventional MRI approaches. Many quantities that we would like to measure are not readily available on the scanner and need to be developed, optimized and tested for accuracy and reproducibility using healthy human volunteers and phantoms (test objects). A substantial number of the projects at CISC now use quantitative MRI techniques that have been optimized at CISC, such as quantitative magnetization transfer, diffusion tensor imaging, T1 mapping and arterial spin labelling.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has become one of the most common methods of imaging the brain. This is mainly due to the exquisite contrast it provides without the use of radiation between different tissue compartments, such as white and grey matter, as well as between healthy and pathological tissue. Another characteristic of MRI is the possibility of manipulating nuclear spins in order to produce a large number of different image contrasts. This property not only allows the collection of several different qualitative images of the brain, but also constitutes the basis for quantitative MRI. Typically, quantitative MRI techniques fit a model of the dependence of the MR signal on a physical process to a number of MRI measurements obtained at different settings of the acquisition pulse sequence, which is sensitized to the physical process of interest. Different quantitative MRI parameters can provide information about different characteristics of tissue, and, combined with clinical variables, may improve our understanding of some pathological conditions.
BSMS Neuroscience & Psychiatry
BSMS Neuroscience is strongly represented at the Clinical Imaging Sciences Centre and is a key research theme within the Medical School, spanning developmental, peripheral and central aspects of neural function using a range of methodological approaches. Neuroscience is also integrated within the undergraduate and postgraduate programmes within the Medical School and across the Universities of Brighton and Sussex. The department of Psychiatry encompasses full-time academics, honorary lecturers and senior lecturers engaged in undergraduate and postgraduate neuroscience research.
School of Psychology, University of Sussex
The School of Psychology is engaged in research across a broad range of the discipline and provides a high quality research environment for staff and for research students. Psychology at Sussex achieved an excellent result in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise and was ranked 12th equal amongst the 76 submissions. 60% of our research was recognised as world leading or internationally excellent, and 95% was internationally recognised or better. Overall the University of Sussex had over 90% of its research rated as internationally recognised or better, and was ranked overall in the top 30 in the UK. The School is organised into four research groups which hold regular seminars and serve as a focus for faculty and research students.
Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science
The Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science (SCCS) is a joint venture between the Schools of Informatics and Psychology at the University of Sussex, and the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. Its remit is to unravel the complex neural networks underpinning conscious experience, in health and in disease.
Researchers from neuroscience, psychology, philosophy and psychiatry have been brought together in the Sackler Centre, where they study the conscious state using a unique combination of theory, clinical investigations and hard science. The Centre is the result of a substantial grant by the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation, which funds pioneering research into the brain. The Sackler Foundations support the advancement of education of the public in the UK and elsewhere in the fields of art, science and medical research. The Sussex Centre is one of only five in the world funded by the Foundation, alongside Sackler research centres at the universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow in the UK and Columbia and Cornell in the USA. The Sackler Centre scientists use neuroimaging, mathematics and computer science to cast fresh light on questions relating to consciousness.
Prof Anil Seth and Prof Hugo Critchley are Co-directors of the Centre and principal researchers at Sussex and the Brighton and Sussex Medical School. They say:
"Our joint aim is to characterise the biological underpinnings of consciousness in its varied expressions in a way that ultimately has practical clinical relevance. The Centre will integrate theoretical models of consciousness with both real-world clinical observations from psychiatry, and experimental observations from psychology, neuroimaging and computer simulations to address what is undoubtedly one of the 'big questions' for 21st-century biological science. The generous and inspirational support from the Dr Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation will enable us to employ leading experts from around the world to help progress new research in the field."