Neurology of Vision Lab

Drs. Vaina and Buonanno's Neurology of Vision Lab links stroke neurology to neuroscience and multimodal brain imaging, to offer diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the brain affecting visual perception and cognition.
  • Dr. Vaina Phone: 617-331-2878

Neurology of Vision Laboratory

Directors: Lucia M. Vaina, MD, PhD, and Ferdinando S. Buonanno, MD

The adult brain constantly adapts to changes in stimuli, and this plasticity is manifest not only as learning and memory but also as dynamic changes in information transmission and processing. Using interactively multimodal imaging (fMRI, MEG) and psychophysics, the Neurology of Vision Laboratory's (NOVI) goal is to understand the mechanisms mediating visual perception in healthy and damaged human brains, and long-term plasticity and short-term dynamics in networks of the adult normal and stroke-damaged cortex.
Our research is translational, conducted hand in hand with several neurologists, physiatrists, and other clinicians. We are developing  psychophysical tests for the diagnosis of  cognitive and higher visual function deficits, and use fMRI, MEG and behavioral tasks to develop a physiological marker for prognosis of recovery of such deficits in stroke patients, and for determining  programs of targeted rehabilitation of such deficits.

Principal Investigators

Lucia Maria Vaina, MD, PhD


  • Lecturer on Neurology,
    Harvard Medical School
  • Associate in Neurology,
    Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Neurology and Neuroscience
    Boston University, Brain and Vision Research Laboratory

Ferdinando S. Buonanno, MD


  • Assistant Professor of Neurology,
    Harvard Medical School
  • Associate in Neurology,
    Massachusetts General Hospital

Clinical Associates

Research Scientists

biomag 2014Dynamic Granger Causality Applied to Perception of a Complex Visual Motion Search Task

Perception and perceptual decisions arise from the spatiotemporal orchestration of activity distributed across brain networks. In an MEG study, we used dynamic Granger Causality and corresponding summary network measures to understand the critical cortical interactions involved in solving a complex visual-motion search task (VS). View poster



Cortical dynamics of perception

Cortical dynamics of perception and decision in sensory tasks: an MEG study

Perception and perceptual decisions arise from the spatiotemporal orchestration of activity distributed across brain networks. Functional MRI (fMRI) studies have shown that discrete networks mediate the sensory processing and the representation of visual search task (VSS2011 C&V). However, fMRI does not have the temporal precision required for revealing the neuronal mechanisms that integrate sensory information and coordinate the decision making process during perceptual tasks. View poster


wavelet images

Deficit of temporal dynamics of detection of a moving object during egomotion in a stroke patient: an MEG study

Using anatomically constrained MEG in conjunction with Granger causality in the time domain (DGC)1 and PLV in the frequency domain and  bands) we compared in a patient and 6 healthy controls the direction and dynamics of connectivity between the functional areas involved in detection of a moving object by a moving observer in two experimental conditions: visual only (unimodal) and cross-modal, visual augmented by an auditory cue co-localized and congruent to the moving object. Our previous psychophysical study of these tasks demonstrated that in healthy observers, this specific auditory cue significantly enhanced task performance. View poster


vision detection

Detection of object motion during self-motion: psychophysics and neuronal substrate

During self-motion, the separation of the motion flow field into self- and  object-motion components is critical to safe navigation. “Flow-parsing”, a visual-only implementation, has been proposed based on the subtraction of induced selfmotion from the perceived flow field1,2. Is object detection during forward observer translation consistent with the low-parsing hypothesis? What brain networks mediate the detection of object motion by a moving observer? View poster


points of perception

Direction of motion in depth: dissociation of perception 114 of self-motion and object motion

Accurately estimating direction of self-motion through the environment (heading) and detecting possibility of collision with a moving object (collision detection) are fundamental tasks of visually guided navigation. Do heading estimation and collision with a moving object share the same motion mechanisms? Is performance on collision detection affected differently by a static or moving observer? Why? What do fMRI studies tell us about the neural substrate of the collision detection task (static observer)? View poster


brain scans

Functional Stealing: Reorganization of the Retinotopic Map After Occipital Lobe Infarction

While neuroplasticity after stroke has been amply demonstrated using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in the motor (1-4) and language (5) systems, there is a dearth of human studies examining neuroplasticity in the cortical visual system. This is in stark contrast with the extensive knowledge of visual mechanisms and their neural substrate in non-human primates and humans. View poster


three medical students

Medical Student Research Project Opportunities

The signature of brain networks after ischemic stroke in humans

In order to understand pathological states after stroke, the projects involves using fMRI data, both from  rest states and from quantitative computerized psychophysical tasks, to determine changes in  functional brain networks in patients compared with healthy subjects. Students will learn fMRI data analysis (Free Surfer), and models of brain connectivity analysis and graph theory concepts that are used to quantitatively characterize the human connectome at the behavioral level.The projects may be done as a mini-project, in a few months, or as a full projects over a few years.

The project can be split into 3-4 related subprojects to be carried out by multiple students. All projects are carried out at MGH-Neurology Department and the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, under the supervision of Drs. Vaina and Buonanno.

Prerequisites (desired but not obligatory): Matlab, fluent in basic statistics and signal processing, good with computers, good knowledge of human brain anatomy. But most important, energy and enthusiasm!

There are no open positions at this time. Please see the Current Projects page for Medical Student opportunities.

Apply for temporary positions (summer interns)  through the Bulfinch Temporary Service Web site at Search for all opportunities using ID# 2200484.

All applicants should register with the Mass General Careers Web site at Request a list of current open positions at

Neurology of Vision Lab Publications

  1. Reorganization of Retinotopic Maps after Occipital Lobe Infarction
  2. Deficit of Temporal Dynamics of Detection of a Moving Object During Egomotion in a Stroke Patient: A Psychophysical and MEG Study. doi: 10.1167/11.11.723 Journal of Vision September 23, 2011 vol. 11 no. 11 article 723 PDF
  3. Vaina, L. M., & Dumoulin, S. O. (2011). Neuropsychological evidence for three distinct motion mechanisms. Neurosci Lett, 495(2), 102-106. PubMed
  4. Vaina, LM, Calabro, F, Lin, FH, Hamalainen, M. (2010) “Long-range coupling of prefrontal cortex and visual (MT) or polysensory (STP) cortical areas in motion perception”, Biomeg_2010, 197-201, Springer Verlag
  5. Vaina, LM, Sikoglu, EM, Sloviev S, LeMay, M, Squatrito, S, Cowey, A . “Functional and anatomical profile of visual motion impairments in stroke patients correlated with fMRI in normal subjects.” Journal of Neuropsychology (2010) 4, 121-145 PubMed
  6. Diaz T, Cubeddu RJ, Rengifo-Moreno PA, Cruz-Gonzalez I, Solis-Martin J, Buonanno FS, Inglessis I, Palacios IF. Management of residual shunts after initial percutaneous patent foramen ovale closure: A single center experience with immediate and long-term follow-up. Catheter Cardiovasc Interv. 2010 Jul 1; 76(1):145-50 PubMed
  7. Miller JC, Hirsch JA, Colon RA, Buonanno FS, Thrall JH, Uppot RN. Cerebral aneurysms. J Am Coll Radiol. 2010 Jan; 7(1):73-6 PubMed
  8. Vaina LM, Soloviev S (2004). The Functional Neuroanatomy of Heading Perception in Humans. In: Vaina LM, Beardsley SA, and Rushton S (Eds.), Optic Flow and Beyond, Chapter 5. Synthese Library, Kluwer Academic Press, 109-138.
  9. Vaina LM, Soloviev S (2003). First-order and Second-order motion: neurological evidence from neuroanatomically distinct systems. In: Heywood CC and Milner D (Eds.) The Roots of visual awareness-Progress in Brain Research, Vol 44, Chapter 14, 197-212. PubMed
  10. Vaina LM, Solomon J, Chowdhuri S, Sinha P, Belliveau JW (2001). “Functional Anatomy of Biological Motion Perception in Humans.” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA). 98(20): 11656-11661.
  11. Vaina LM, Cowey A, Eskew RT, LeMay M, Kemper T (2001). “Anatomical Correlates Of Global Motion Perception: Evidence From Unilateral Cortical Brain Damage.”  Brain. 124: 310-321 PubMed
  12. Vaina LM, Rushton SK (2000).  What Neurological Patients tell us about the Use of Optic Flow. In: Lappe M (Ed.) International Review of Neurobiology, 44: 293-314 PubMed
  13. Nogueira RG, Yoo AJ, Buonanno FS, Hirsch JA. Endovascular approaches to acute stroke, part 2: a comprehensive review of studies and trials. AJNR Am J Neuroradiol. 2009 May; 30(5):859-75 PubMed
  14. Kiernan TJ, Yan BP, Cubeddu RJ, Rengifo-Moreno P, Gupta V, Inglessis I, Ning M, Demirjian ZN, Jaff MR, Buonanno FS, Schainfeld RM, Palacios IF. May-Thurner syndrome in patients with cryptogenic stroke and patent foramen ovale: an important clinical association. Stroke. 2009 Apr; 40(4):1502-4 PubMed
  15. Nogueira RG, Baccin CE, Rabinov JD, Pryor JC, Buonanno FS, Hirsch JA. Reversible parkinsonism after treatment of dural arteriovenous fistula. J Neuroimaging. 2009 Apr; 19(2):183-4 PubMed

View Dr. Vaina Publications on PubMed

View Dr. Buonanno Publications on PubMed



Updated 11/2/2011

Department of Neurology

Wang Ambulatory Care Center
8th Floor, Suite 835
15 Parkman Street
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 855-644-6387
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Nazem Atassi, MD, MMSc
Program Director, Anne B. Young Fellowship
Massachusetts General Hospital

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