Building on his earlier groundbreaking discoveries, Owen is using functional neuroimaging (fMRI) to detect and measure activity in patients who appear to be entirely vegetative. He is also developing new brain-computer interfaces that will allow these patients to communicate with the outside world and expand their choices for therapy.
As a Canada Excellence Research Chair, Owen is also studying the cognitive deficits (problems in perceiving, thinking, reasoning and remembering) in patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Alzheimer’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Drawing on existing expertise at Western University in genetics, cognitive neuroscience, neurology, and brain imaging, Owen is exploring the nature and causes of these neurodegenerative diseases, with the goal of improving their early detection and treatment.
Together, Owen’s pioneering techniques offer a new window into the consciousness of brain-injured patients and a new understanding of the causes of neurodegenerative disease. His work will improve health care delivery for patients across Canada, and provide a solid foundation for future leading-edge research at Western by encouraging links between neuroscientists, biomedical engineers and clinicians, and providing new opportunities for both research and industry.