Date of Award

December 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Ramin Pashaie

Committee Members

Fred J. Helmstetter, Brian S R Armstrong, Chiu Tai Law, Edgar A. DeYoe


Blood Flow Closed-loop Control, Cortical Blood Flow, Optical Coherence Tomography, Optogenetics, Vasodynamics


Understanding blood flow regulatory mechanisms that correlate the regional blood flow with the level of local neuronal activity in brain is an ongoing research. Discerning different aspects of this coupling is of substantial importance in interpretation of functional imaging results, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), that rely on hemodynamic recordings to detect and image brain neuronal activity. Moreover, this understanding can provide insight into blood flow disorders under different pathophysiological conditions and possible treatments for such disorders.

The blood regulatory mechanisms can be studied at two different; however, complementary levels: at the cellular level or at the vascular level. To fully understand the regulatory mechanisms in brain, it is essential to discern details of the coupling mechanism in each level. While, the cellular pathways of the coupling mechanism has been studied extensively in the past few decades, our understanding of the vascular response to brain activity is fairly basic. The main objective of this dissertation is to develop proper methods and instrumentation to interrogate regional cortical vasodynamics in response to local brain stimulation.

For this purpose we offer the design of a custom-made OCT scanner and the necessary lens mechanisms to integrate the OCT system, fluorescence imaging, and optogenetic stimulation technologies in a single system. The design uses off-the-shelf components for a cost-effective design. The modular design of the device allows scientists to modify it in accordance with their research needs. With this multi-modal system we are able to monitor blood flow, blood velocity, and lumen diameter of pial vessels, simultaneously. Additionally, the system design provides the possibility of generating arbitrary spatial stimulation light pattern on brain. These abilities enables researchers to capture more diverse datasets and, eventually, obtain a more comprehensive picture of the vasodynamics in the brain.

Along with the device we also proposed new biological experiments that are tailored to investigate the spatio-temporal properties of the vascular response to optical neurostimulation of the excitatory neurons. We demonstrate the ability of the proposed methods to investigate the effect of length and amplitude of stimulation on the temporal pattern of response in the blood flow, blood velocity, and diameter of the pial vessels. Moreover, we offer systemic approaches to investigate the spatial characteristics of the response in a vascular network. In these methods we apply arbitrary spatial patterns of optical stimulation to the cortex of transgenic mice and monitor the attributes of surrounding vessels. With this flexibility we were able to image the brain region that is influenced by a pial artery.

After characterizing the spatio-temporal properties of the vascular blood flow response to optical neuro-modulation, we demonstrate the design and application of an optogenetic-based closed-loop controller mechanism in the brain. This controller, uses a proportional–integral–derivative (PID) compensator to engineer temporal optogenetic stimulation light pulses and maintain the flow of blood at various user defined levels in a set of selected arteries. Upon tuning the gain values of the PID controller we obtained a near to critically-damped response in the blood flow of selected arterial vessels.

Available for download on Thursday, January 03, 2019