Dr Luke Boorman PhD, MEng


Department of Psychology
The University of Sheffield
S10 2TN
Tel: (+44) 0114 22 26514
Fax: (+44) 0114 27 66515
Email: l.boorman@sheffield.ac.uk


Meng(Hons) Medical Systems Engineering, University of Sheffield

PhD Neuroscience, University of Sheffield

Research interests

My research focuses on trying to improve our understanding of brain function, primarily through the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which is the major tool for cognitive neuroscience research and has many potential clinical applications. Blood oxygenation level dependent (BOLD) fMRI allows for the non-invasive detection of functional activations occurring within the brain, but it does not directly measure neural activity, instead relying on measuring the blood saturation, flow and volume changes that accompany neural activity. In my research I use a variety of neuroimaging techniques to measure the blood and neural changes occurring within the brain, allowing more of the underlying physiological processes involved in the BOLD signal generation to be discovered.

Negative BOLD

My main area of interest is understanding the negative BOLD response. An increase in MR signal – positive BOLD – is widely used for investigating brain function and indicates an increase in brain activity. However, while a decrease in the BOLD signal, termed negative BOLD, has been observed in many fMRI studies, this signal is not as well understood. Negative BOLD is hypothesised to reflect decreases in cerebral activity but this has only been demonstrated in a few studies. With better understanding, negative BOLD could have use as a tool for the detection of diseases, such as schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy (e.g., Harris, Bruyns-Haylett. Kennerley, Boorman et al., in press, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism).

Investigation of the neurophysiological basis of the negative BOLD was the basis of my EPSRC funded PhD (see, for example, Boorman et al., 2010, Journal of Neuroscience), and I currently hold a 3-year MRC grant on this topic.

Multi-modality imaging

I have combined a variety of techniques to allow multi-modality neuroimaging, to provide further insight into the neuro-vascular link underpinning fMRI. As well as using a 7T MRI scanner with a number of sequences including BOLD, arterial spin labelling and vascular space occupancy, I work with a range of additional neuroimaging techniques including 2D optical imaging spectroscopy, laser Doppler flowmetry, speckle imaging, and multi-channel electrophysiology.

Over the last seven years, I have done extensive work to optimise these techniques, for example, by reducing electrical interference in neural recordings, designing and building RF coils for whole brain fMRI, and developing simultaneous fMRI and 2D-OIS imaging (e.g., Kennerley, Harris, Bruyns-Haylett, Boorman et al., 2011, Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism; Kennerley, Mayhew, Boorman et al., 2012, Neuroimage). I recently built an MR compatible stimulator which produces minimal electrical interference allowing for cleaner recording of evoked responses using BOLD fMRI and electrophysiology.

Signal processing

The third strand of my research involves the development of new data analysis techniques, currently based in Matlab. For example, I have developed techniques for the spatial-temporal analysis of neural and haemodynamic data, including time-frequency analysis performed using both Fourier methods and time domain analysis using general-linear-modelling (e.g., Bruyns-Haylett, Harris, Boorman et al., in press, European Journal of Neuroscience).

My most recent advance has been to improve data quality for both haemodynamic and neural recordings, by reducing noise, increasing the strength of recorded signals and improving experimental stability. This has allowed for new analysis techniques to be used, including single trial analyses (Boorman et al., in preparation).

Research grants

2011-2014 MRC & BBSRC. The neurophysiological basis of negative BOLD signals – Berwick J (PI), Jones M, Kennerley A, Boorman L, Martin C, Redgrave P, Zheng Y. £655K

Post-graduate students

Rebecca Slack (TUOS Demonstratorship, 2012-2016, Secondary Supervisor)
Priya Patel (TUOS Demonstratorship, 2012-2016, Co-Supervisor)
Kira Shaw (A*Star, 2012-2016, Co-Supervisor)
Msc project supervisor (Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience, 2012)


PSY6121 Research Methods

Invited talks

Investigating the negative BOLD signal by single impulse stimulation. Research seminar, Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, Tubingen Germany, February 2013

Understanding the negative BOLD signal: Application of simultaneous fMRI and optical imaging spectroscopy. Invited keynote speech, Bruker user-group meeting, Ettlingen Germany, October 2011

Journal articles

Harris S, Bruyns-Haylett M, Kennerley A, Boorman L, Overton PG, Ma H, Zhao M, Schwartz TH & Berwick J (2013) The effects of focal epileptic activity on regional sensory-evoked neurovascular coupling and postictal modulation of bilateral sensory processing. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab.

Bruyns-Haylett M, Harris S, Boorman L, Zheng Y, Berwick J & Jones M (2013) The resting-state neurovascular coupling relationship: rapid changes in spontaneous neural activity in the somatosensory cortex are associated with haemodynamic fluctuations that resemble stimulus-evoked haemodynamics. Eur J Neurosci.

Kennerley AJ, Mayhew JE, Boorman L, Zheng Y & Berwick J (2012) Is optical imaging spectroscopy a viable measurement technique for the investigation of the negative BOLD phenomenon? A concurrent optical imaging spectroscopy and fMRI study at high field (7 T). Neuroimage, 61(1), 10-20.

Kennerley AJ, Harris S, Bruyns-Haylett M, Boorman L, Zheng Y, Jones M & Berwick J (2012) Early and late stimulus-evoked cortical hemodynamic responses provide insight into the neurogenic nature of neurovascular coupling. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, 32(3), 468-480.

Boorman L, Kennerley AJ, Johnston D, Jones M, Zheng Y, Redgrave P & Berwick J (2010) Negative blood oxygen level dependence in the rat: a model for investigating the role of suppression in neurovascular coupling. J Neurosci, 30(12), 4285-4294.

Conference presentations since 2010

L. Boorman, R. Slack, J. Berwick (2013) Investigating the negative bold signal by single impulse neural stimulation. ISCBFM Brain Shanghai.

L. Boorman, M. Bruyns-Haylett, R. Slack, A. Kennerley, S. Harris, Y. Zheng, M. Jones, J. Berwick (2013) Investigating the haemodynamic correlates of stimulus evoked and spontaneously occurring
thalamocortical spindles in the anaesthetised rat. British Neuroscience Association London.

L. Boorman, M. Bruyns-Haylett, Y. Zheng, A. Kennerley, M. Jones, J. Berwick (2012) Investigating the role of thalamocortical spindles in stimulus-evoked cortical Negative BOLD signals. Neuroscience, New Orleans.

L. Boorman, M. Bruyns-Haylett, A. Kennerley, S. Harris, Y. Zheng, M. Jones, J. Berwick (2011) Investigating inter-trial variability and temporal order in cortical hemodynamic response magnitude. Neuroscience Washington DC.

L. Boorman, M. Port, J. Berwick, A. Kennerley, M. Jones, D. Johnston, P. Overton (2010) The role of cyclooxygenase and nitric oxide in the mediation of whisker evoked BOLD fMRI responses in somatosensory structures in rat. Neuroscience, San Diego.

L. Boorman, M. Port, J. Berwick, A. Kennerley, M. Jones, D. Johnston, P. Overton (2010) The role of cyclooxygenase in the mediation of whisker evoked BOLD fMRI responses in somatosensory structures in rat. BC-ISMRM Annual Scientific Meeting. Nottingham.