A WORLD-renowned Glasgow-based academic says future treatment of conditions and illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s and depression, as well as aiding stroke recovery, could begin their journey in the city as a major conference opens this week.


The Organization for Human Brain Mapping conference is being held in Scotland for the first time, and is the first in-person event for the OHBM post-pandemic. It’s that face-to-face connection that University of Glasgow Professor Lars Muckli believes is the key to what could lead to life-changing treatments or clinical trials. The event at the Scottish Event Campus in Clydeside opens on Monday with 2,000 delegates.

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Professor Muckli leads the Visual and Cognitive Neurosciences at the university and the Imaging Centre of Excellence programme at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. It is home to a state-of-the-art MRI scanner, which helps academic imaging specialists carry out research. It gives researchers an opportunity to know more about brain conditions, including stroke, dementia, brain tumours, Parkinson’s, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis.

HeraldScotland: Glasgow hosts the Organisation of Human Brain Mapping conference this weekGlasgow hosts the Organisation of Human Brain Mapping conference this week
Professor Muckli said: “To lead a major conference in the field of brain imaging is very important for us, the university and the development of our department and it is a way to showcase what we are doing at our Glasgow imaging centres.
“Many of our ideas and our common grounds in how we analyse data and how we study the brain is negotiated and discussed at live events in a different way to what we might have done virtually. Some great ideas come from when we meet at conferences with the scientific community.
“It’s sometimes surprise innovation meetings – new ideas or studies – that makes things happen. Across the whole conference, I am sure that there will be innovations that will be affecting someone, some team, very soon in the field of disease, trauma or recovery from, for example, stroke.”
The first brain imaging conference was in the mid 1990s when the idea was relatively new, but analysis work now has an impact on future treatments.

HeraldScotland: More than 50,000 delegates will visit Glasgow for UK and international conferences between April 2022 and March 2023More than 50,000 delegates will visit Glasgow for UK and international conferences between April 2022 and March 2023
He added: “We take basic understanding of brain mechanism and question, how does the brain work, how can it be simulated? We are also looking at what can we learn from the brain, how does consciousness emerge or mental images. We have mental images that are ignited in dark, soft tissue under the skull. There is no light, but in the back of our brain there is the visual cortex that makes those images, that we perceive as being colourful and exciting, and how does that happen? 
It is the fundamental question that we are asking.
“To understand the constructive aspect of brain mechanisms is helpful for understanding how memories are formed or the lack of memory. It is the basic component to research about conditions such as Alzheimer’s.
“Brain mapping is the best tool 
we have to understanding brain mechanism, which is the fundamental before we can fix and change it.”

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This year, Glasgow will welcome seven leading neurology or neuroscience related conferences, attracting approximately 10,000 delegates. Collectively, these meetings will boost the city’s economy by more than £15 million.
Alongside the city’s longstanding reputation as a centre for world-class research in neurology, Glasgow Convention Bureau’s network of Conference Ambassadors works hard to attract these high-profile academic meetings to the city. More than 70 per cent of all meetings held in Glasgow are led, or supported by, one of the city’s academic institutions.
Aileen Crawford, head of tourism and conventions at Glasgow Life, said: “Glasgow was one of the first destinations in Europe to create a Conference Ambassador programme; supporting local academics in their efforts to bring major academic conferences to our city. 
“For more than 30 years, these meetings have helped position Glasgow on the global stage by highlighting the research excellence and innovation coming out of our universities.
“Welcoming the prestigious OHBM conference this week, and looking at the wider neurology and neuroscience meetings this year, they represent the world-leading research successes from our academic past, present and future, and are of huge social and economic benefit to Glasgow.”