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Michiel Kleinnijenhuis

Post-doctoral MRI physicist

In my research, I'm developing methods to measure the microstructure of the brain. We expect that with our improved methods and models will be able to address a range of questions that have been difficult to answer with existing techniques. Foremost, we would like to investigate which microstructural changes are involved in white matter plasticity (after learning a new motor skill, for example). 

The techniques I focus on are diffusion MRI and susceptibility MRI. With diffusion MRI we can probe the movement of molecules through the brain, as they interact with cell membranes. Our aim is to derive quantities that capture tissue properties such as axonal density, diameter, direction and dispersion. With susceptibility MRI, we investigate the properties of the myelin sheet that surrounds most long-distance axons. I combine these MRI methods with other anatomical techniques (such as electron microscopy, polarized light imaging, and histology) to validate and interpret the MRI measures.

Doing research on the interface between physics and neuroscience as stimulating a job you can have. I believe that bridging the microscopic and macroscopic scales is one of the main undertakings neuroscience is faced with in the next decade (or so). The prospect of integration of explanations of brain function on multiple levels is one of my main drives.

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