John T. Wall, Ph.D.

john wall

Office: Room 14 Block Health Science Building
Tel: 419-383-4027
Lab: 419-383-4388

1970: BS, Fordham University
1979: Ph.D., University of Virginia
1981: NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University

Research Interests:

            Our brain imaging group uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study how human brain structure and function adjusts to life conditions. Projects with different focuses are underway. One of my main interests is time-series tracking of ongoing maintenance of brain structure.  We are using an unconventional N-of-1 MRI design in which sizes of brain structures are repeatedly measured at regular short intervals over extended periods in an individual person.  The goal is to identify concepts of brain maintenance that apply at an individual person level that may not be resolvable, and may be overlooked, by conventional cross-sectional or longitudinal group analysis designs.  Brain structure undergoes recognized major changes at the two ends of the human lifespan, i.e. during development prenatally and into the initial two decades, and during the last decade or so, of life.  Between early life development and the last years of aging, mature brain structure must be continuously maintained in a healthy viable state from week-to-week during normal adulthood. 

            It is well recognized that a healthy adult brain can undergo structural plasticity due to learning or injury.  In contrast, during periods of baseline normal living mature brain structure is widely thought to be statically maintained.  This static maintenance view is based on age-related group average rates of structural change over long periods of years-decades which, when extrapolated to week or other short intervals, suggest brain structural measures remain static over short intervals.  Interestingly, this view has not been directly tested at an individual person level.

            Using an N-of-1 design in which we have reiteratively measured brain structure at regular intervals over several months in an individual person, we have findings that support the hypothesis that continuous maintenance of an individual person’s brain can involve reversing incremental and decremental fluctuations in the structural thickness of the cerebral cortex that appear to reflect continuous maintenance remodeling/turnover of cortical substrates.  This work suggests that ongoing maintenance of the cortical structure of an individual person’s brain may not be as static as presently thought.  We are currently pursuing this line of research.  In addition, projects that are ongoing or being developed and led by other imaging group members address further issues including, e.g., how brain function and structure change over time as a result of a traumatic experience or traumatic injury.

Research (Partial List):

Wang, X., Gerken, M., Dennis, M., Mooney, R., Kane, J., Khuder, S., Xie, H., Bauer, W., Apkarian, A.V., and Wall, J.  (2010).  Profiles of precentral and postcentral cortical mean thicknesses in individual subjects over acute and subacute time-scales.  Cerebral Cortex, 20, 1513-1522. 

Xie, H., Kane, J., Dennis, M., Mooney, R., Bauer, W., Wang, X., and Wall, J. (2013) Case series evidence for changed interhemispheric relationships in cortical structure in some amputeesJ. Clin. Neurosci., 20, 523-526.

Xie, H., Wall, J.T., Liberzon, I., Tamburrino, M.B., Cotton, A.S., Custer, A.C., McLean, S.A., Brickman, K.R., Bauer, W.R., and Wang, X. (2014). Subacute cortical thickness changes after mild traumatic brain injury. Biological Psychiatry, 75, 102S-102S, meeting abstract 321.

Wang, X., Xie, H., Cotton, A.S., Brickman, K.R., Lewis, T.J., Wall, J.T., Tamburrino, M.B., Bauer, W.R., Law, K., McLean, S.A., and Liberzon, I. (2017). Early changes in cortical emotion processing circuits after mild traumatic brain injury from motor vehicle collision. J. Neurotrauma, 34, 273-280. DOI: 10.1089/neu.2015.4392

Wall, J., Xie, H., and Wang, X. (2017). An exploration into short interval maintenance of adult hemispheric cortical thickness at an individual brain level. J. Exper. Neurosci., in press.

Last Updated: 9/22/17