Paul Taylor is Professor of Cognition and Higher Vestibular Disorders at the Klinikum Grosshadern, the university hospital of LMU, Munich, Germany. The group’s research extends cognitive neuroscience into clinically relevant domains, in particular investigating how visual cognition is compromised in various populations of neurological patients such as those with vestibular disorders, and the elderly. This research has three stages: firstly, the development of cutting-edge methods, including combining human non-invasive brain stimulation (TMS and tCS) online with EEG, eye tracking and others, on both “normal” and patient populations; secondly, basic research into how attention relates to multi-sensory integration, action, intention, and awareness; thirdly, translational research enabled by working with his colleagues in the Neurology Department and at the German Center for Vertigo and Balance Disorders.
Thank you for agreeing to speak to us Paul, let’s get started.
Please provide a brief background of your career so far.
I studied at Oxford, PostDoc’d in London, then moved to Germany. I am now Professor of Cognition and Higher Vestibular Disorders at the Department of Neurology and German Center for Vertigo and Balance Disorders at the LMU Munich university hospital, the Klinikum Grosshadern.
What is your current area of research?
How is our perception of the external world affected by processes going on inside us; and how can this go wrong in the clinic? What methods do we need to best frame these questions?
In your opinion what have been some of the recent exciting advances in technology for brain research?
EEG amplifier technology now makes it dramatically simpler to be able to record brain activity during the rapid changes caused by brain stimulation.
How do you think multimodal applications will further our understanding of neurological diseases?
I think it is still excitingly unclear which out of prognostics/diagnostics/treatment is going to benefit most from all these undeniably impressive methodological developments.
What new non-invasive brain stimulation applications or research avenues are you keen to see develop?
The issue of how stimulation effects can vary between people is a classic problem but is rightly receiving renewed attention at the moment, and right now in the field we’re seeing exciting examples of why the same stimulation parameters might have different effects on, say, you than on me.
What are the questions we need to be addressing in brain research?
When are our effects with brain stimulation (or for that matter any experiment in the lab environment) like normal brain activity; when aren’t they, and most importantly how can we tell?
How do you think we should go about addressing them?
One of the reasons for recording brain activity during brain stimulation is to show when the effects are like what “normally” happens in the brain: and when they aren’t.
If you had to guess, what do you think the next big discoveries in brain research will be?
If I got to CHOOSE then one of the next big discoveries would be how to better connect with the public.
And lastly, why did you get involved in the BrainBox Initiative?
As an opportunity to reach out to and support early career researchers
Thank you Paul, we look forward to hearing more about your research at the BrainBox Initiative Conference this September.
You can meet Paul at the BrainBox Initiative Conference on 27-28 September 2018 at the Wellcome Collection where he will be a keynote speaker.