Dr. Jorge Riera obtained a B.S. in Physics at the University of Havana in 1988. During 1995-1998, he was selected as “Junior Associate” of the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste (Italy), where he completed the required credits for a master degree in biophysics. In 1999, he received the Ph.D. degree in Physics from the University of Havana with a dissertation entitled, “Brain Electric Tomography: the Solution of EEG/MEG Forward and Inverse Problems based on a New Approach.” Part of his Ph.D. thesis was completed at the Pitie-Salpetriere Hospital in Paris. Dr. Riera’s first postdoctoral term was in the RIKEN Brain Science Institute (Japan), where he developed mathematical methods to study deep brain sources from magnetoencephalography (MEG) single trials. His second postdoctoral term was in Tohoku University (Japan), where he worked on the elucidation of the physiological foundations of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) data. In 2004, he was appointed as associate professor in Tohoku University. Dr. Riera’s main scientific interest is to develop method for the integration of neuroimaging multimodalities based on modeling mesoscopic phenomena in the cerebral cortex. With a substantial start-up package, Dr. Riera recruited a multidisciplinary group of researchers and acquired avant-garde equipment for functional neuroimaging in small animals (e.g., 7T Bruker Pharmanscan, high-density electrophysiological systems and multiphoton microscopy). From 2006-2011, his research was extensively funded by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Telecommunications Advancement Organization of Japan and the Japan Science and Technology agency. In 2011, he joined Florida International University (FIU), first as a Visiting Professor and later (June 2012) as an Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. For the past ~5 years he has directed the Neuronal Mass Dynamics (NMD) lab. He has also been appointed by the Honor College, the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine and the STEM Transformation Institute. Dr. Riera’s research is focused on developing strategies to integrate different modalities of brain imaging for the understanding of multicellular signaling in the neocortex. His early work has been essential to understand the mechanisms of genesis of EEG and fMRI-BOLD signals in the brain. Based first on data from humans and later from rodents, his team has developed biophysical models of cortical microcircuits and neurovascular/metabolic coupling. These models underlie US-patented methods to study multi-scale cellular dynamics using brain imaging and electrophysiological techniques. Of particular interest is the development of pre-clinical rodent models to study epilepsy, migraine and dementia by means of brain mapping. Dr. Riera has been working with the Nicklaus Children Hospital and the Miller School Medicine at UM for the translation of his animal studies into clinical practice to improve surgical outcomes in epilepsy. In his laboratory, two groundbreaking techniques have been developed in collaboration with and commercialized by industrial partners: a) an EEG mini-cap (Cortech Solution) and b) a 3D microelectrode array (Neuronexus Tech.). Dr. Riera’s work at FIU has been funded by NSF and NIH.
Pedro Antonio Valdés Hernández
My work is largely related to Neuroimaging processing (several MRI modalities and EEG) and biophysical modeling of both brain activity and its imprints on EEG, fMRI, optical imaging, LFP and Doppler flowmetry. My focus at NMD is understanding the mechanisms of focal epilepsy and provide methods to improve the accuracy of seizure onset zone localization with the goal of improving surgical outcomes. I work with both pediatric clinical populations and preclinical (rats) samples, for which I record simultaneous EEG and fMRI and perform a wide battery of analyses, spanning from BOLD connectivity, BOLD event related activity characterization, EEG microstates, Dynamic Causal Modeling, to understand how epileptic activity and brain networks interact. I am also involved in biophysical modeling of brain electrical activity at the mesoscopic level and non-standard BOLD signals. I have experience on the acquisition, preprocessing, post-processing and analysis of structural, diffusion and functional MRI, both in human and rats. I have also performed LFP, Doppler flowmetry and optical imaging experiments in Wistar rats. My training and knowledge areas spans from Computational Neuroanatomy, both MRI (pulse sequence programming) and EEG/MEG physics to Computational Neuroscience (neural modeling and bifurcation analysis). Before, I worked in methods to improving certain EEG forward modeling aspects. Conceived as a state-space model in my PhD thesis, I introduced the notion of approximating the EEG observation equation by means of statistical analysis on human and rat MRI databases. I proposed state model selection based on experimental verification of predicted biophysical relations between Neuroimaging-based neuroanatomical parameters and EEG quantitative descriptors. I also co-developed methods for diffusion MRI-based anatomical connectivity analysis and tissue anisotropy characterization.
“My major research interests consist of different areas in computational neuroscience, signal conduction in microcirculatory system, and fluid dynamics. In particular, my PhD project, in collaboration with the department of pharmacology of University of Vermont, focuses on understanding cellular and sub- cellular mechanisms underlying functional hyperemia (i.e. neurovascular coupling (NVC): increase in local blood perfusion in response to elevated neuronal activity), during health and in disease using a multiscale mathematical modeling approach. This involves understanding the interactions of various molecules at the cell level, and their integrated response at the tissue level resulting in the control f blood flow in different areas of the brain. Another research area, in collaboration with the mathematics department of University of Minnesota, that I am involved in entails developing a mathematical method for estimating transmembrane currents originated from propagation of neuronal activity in the neocortex, in particular during Cortical Spreading Depression. Using this method, one can estimate the location, as well as the shape, of current sources responsible for the change in the voltage distributions recorded from the cortex during different neurological conditions.”
“My research delves into understanding the role of calcium signaling in astrocytes and their contribution to various neuroinflammatory disorders in the brain. The study of astrocytes can be critical in understanding the dynamics of how sustained neuroinflammation can negatively affect the astro-neuro-vascular environment.”
“I completed my undergraduate degree here at FIU and I recently decided to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. I currently work on the modeling and parameter estimation of Neurovascular Coupling in healthy individuals using recorded electrophysiological and hemodynamic data.”
Diana is interested in, “optogenetics and the study of astrocytes through
Optogenetic techniques. In addition, I’m interested in Cortical Spreading
Depression and studying the phenomenon through electrophysiology.”
“My primary interest includes studying structure, function and behavior. Currently I am analyzing the amygdala and whether partial seizures cause a change of morphology in the structure. The underlying question is whether the cause of aggression in epileptic patients is this change of structure. Furthermore, I am also interested in finding a way to attenuate this degeneration if present, as well as rehabilitate the neurons that were lost due to the partial seizures.”
“My research interest focuses on clinical neurophysiology and the role of EEG microstate analysis in understanding neural network dynamics found in epilepsy. As a prospective medical student, I hope to see the application of these novel techniques to aid in the diagnosis, management, and monitoring of neurological disorders.”
“As part of the lab, my interests are mainly focused on developing the foundations on the mechanism and neurovascular coupling and to what extent it occurs, the measurement and indication of action potentials using computer modeling and coding, and the analyzation of certain potentials recorded via electroencephalogram. As an undergraduate student, I hope to continue to pursue these interests and can contribute my work.”
My research in the Neuronal Mass Dynamics Laboratory primarily focuses on optogenetics’ potential use in astrocytes’ function control. This will potentially lead to the development of groundbreaking clinical applications in treatments for epilepsy.
Daniel E. Rivera
“My research consists of in vivo experimentation performing acute brain surgery on rats to study a neurological phenomenon observed mainly in migraine aura called cortical spreading depression and am seeking to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience to focus on the clinical aspects of the field.”
“My research focuses are in field of : Alterations in resting state functional connectivity in Default mode network of Epileptic patients and comparing it with normal patients with the use of ‘Brain connectivity softwares’ for visualization.”
“I find the brain fascinating and the idea of linking technology with it exciting. I am still in the process of learning the basics but I have a true passion for math and science that I think serves as a good base for learning about neurology and biomedical engineering.”