Presiding over the Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Center, Joy Hirsch, professor of functional neuroradiology, has established and directs a research center focused on medical applications, education, and the study of brain, behavior, and therapy-induced cortical effects utilizing the developments in functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Dr Hirsch has a joint appointment in the Department of Radiology and the Center for Neurobiology and Behavior, and her laboratory includes a large number of graduate students and postdoctoral students from the graduate school.
Dr Hirsch joined Columbia from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Weill College of Medicine at Cornell University where she founded the fMRI laboratory and pioneered the introduction of brain-mapping procedures for neurosurgical planning. Using fMRI, her laboratory made fundamental contributions to the understanding of sensation and perception, language and the cognitive processes, and brain regions that are modified by specific drugs. These initial studies were built upon research done by Dr Hirsch as a professor at Yale University School of Medicine, where she focused on the cortical mechanisms directly involved in human visual processing, serving as a foundation to connect the advantages of fMRI to ongoing and new research directions at Columbia University.
The fMRI research program collaborates with investigators, clinicians and researchers, from a broad cross section of departments. A unifying goal of this integrated program is to catalyze and develop advantages of functional brain imaging to benefit patient care, to enhance drug discovery, and to enable investigations of brain function.
Can one read the brain and make inferences about what is actually being experienced by an individual?
We’ve made a little progress, perhaps in applications, but not a lot of progress in understanding the hard problem.
The current research that is most exciting is aimed toward understanding how the brain looks now at the connectivity between specific areas.