Principal Investigators //


Vince Clark, PhD

Professor of Translational Neuroscience

Vince Clark

Dr. Clark has worked with MRN as Director of Neuroscience, then as Scientific Director recruiting scientists and helping MRN to increase its grant portfolio by expanding into new areas of research such as addiction, accelerated learning, and multimodal imaging.  In association with the Department of Psychology at UNM (http://psych.unm.edu), where he is Founding Director of the new Clinical Neuroscience Center, he and his associates investigate the relationship between mind and brain. He employs structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetoencephalography (MEG), event-related potentials (ERPs) and methods of transcranial brain stimulation, including transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), as well as other methods to examine human brain structure and function. Using these tools, he is investigating the basic organizational principles of perception, learning, memory, attention and language in healthy individuals. He also uses these methods to examine the neural basis of psychiatric disorders such as drug and gambling addiction, psychopathy and schizophrenia.  He is developing new methods of data analysis for combining data from different imaging techniques to gain fundamentally new information on human brain structure and function, and is using this and other methods to expand the boundaries of brain imaging techniques. His recent area of research examines how tDCS can be used to increase learning and performance in healthy subjects, and the mechanisms by which tDCS produces changes in brain function and behavior. Brain stimulation may lead to a variety of innovations in classroom education and professional training, along with new treatments for psychiatric and neurological disorders.

For more information on Dr. Clark, please refer to his Curriculum Vitae.

Email Dr. Clark

Imaging-Based Diagnosis of Neuroinflammation

Preliminary evidence suggests that many neurological and psychiatric illnesses, including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s Disease, autism, multiple sclerosis, addiction and chronic pain among many others, all may include neuroinflammation as a part of their onset and/or course.  However, the evidence for this is often circumstantial, and there are few treatments available to reduce neuroinflammation when it is diagnosed.   These could be aided by developing non-invasive methods for diagnosis and treatment.  We recently hosted an international meeting on these topics, view here >, and are editing a special issue of the Journal of NeuroImmune Pharmacology to disseminate this information.  We plan to pursue preliminary studies shortly to begin to develop neuroimaging-based methods of diagnosis, which we hope will lead to improved treatments for many disorders.  We also plan to examine the use of brain stimulation techniques to examine their effects on pain and neuroinflammation.

Effects of Brain Stimulation on Attention, Perception and Learning

We have recently found that tDCS increases performance and learning in a difficult visual learning task (Clark et al. 2012), and that this same tDCS protocol increases the combined concentration of glutamate and glutamine, as well as NAA (Clark et al. 2011), suggesting neurochemical mechanisms by which tDCS increases learning and performance.  Our current studies examine the cognitive effects of tDCS, specifically which components of cognition are altered by different tDCS protocols, which well help us to understand the cognitive mechanisms of tDCS enhancement, and may suggest other research and clinical applications of tDCS.  Future planned studies will examine the neurophysiological and neurochemical effects of tDCS using an MRI-compatible tDCS system, in collaboration with the newly formed Clinical Neuroscience Center in the Department of Psychology at UNM, where Dr. Clark is Director.  We are also collaborating with other groups around the country who have developed more effective mechanisms of targeting brain stimulation, including a new method for 3D targeting that may provide the ability to stimulate deep brain structures while leaving more superficial structures unaffected.

Effects of Oral Orthotics on Brain Function

This project will be to examine the brain effects of a remarkable new form of oral orthotic that has been found to improve symptoms of a variety of motor illnesses, including dystonia, tremor, Parkinson's Disease, Tourette's Syndrome, and others.  See our short film about this, “Reconnected”.  In the present studies, we are using fMRI to examine changes in brain networks caused by the use of oral orthotics, in order to better understand the neural mechanisms resulting in their beneficial behavioral effects in patients with motor illness.