About NCRI

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke,* there are more than 600 disorders of the central nervous system (neurological disorders) affecting an estimated 50 million Americans each year, contributing to 6.3% of the total Global Burden of Disease (WHO, 2014) with a projected 12% increase by 2030. Neurological disorders (disorders of the central nervous system) cause over 12% of total deaths globally. Over 85% of these deaths are caused by cerebrovascular disease. Neurological conditions which cause considerable disability and burden to patients include neurocognitive disorders, neuroinfections, and neurological sequelae of infections (poliomyelitis, tetanus, meningitis, encephalitis, pertussis, malaria, etc.), tumor and developmental disorders, problems associated with nutritional deficiencies (such as iodine deficiency, diabetes mellitus, etc.) and neurological effects of injuries (accidents, poisoning, falls, fires, unintentional and intentional injuries).

While neurological disorders such as Migraine Syndrome, Alzheimer’s Disease, Lyme Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and epilepsy are more well-known, other neurological disorders are no less debilitating. For example, Myalgic Encephalitis Syndrome (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is said to be a disease of unknown etiology, though the disease is essentially brain inflammation, which is encephalitis.** ME nonetheless affects well over 1 million Americans each year and over 17 million people worldwide. Patients often report that symptoms of ME–unrelenting, exhaustive fatigue and cognitive impairment- are the most debilitating aspects of the disease. Yet, less attention in the literature has been paid to underlying brain responses in cognitive impairment as reductions in cognitive performance are considered to be a sign of fatigue. To improve health and well-being for these patients, the NCRI conducts research designed to facilitate general understanding of the illness, which will lead to new treatment options and clinical applications that go far beyond palliative care.

NCRI was founded in 2014 to promote several definitive goals including:

  1. Fostering basic, applied and translational research using the newest and most innovative electrical neuroimaging techniques helps to acquire new information that is critically important to defining relationships between symptoms and brain activity. This information will aid us in gaining new insights in discovery of disease mechanisms, and developing disease-modifying treatments, monitoring treatment progress, and obtaining more meaningful and sustained health outcomes.
  2. Conducting classification research to help identify and differentiate among similar clinical entities based on group differences in brain functioning as measured by neuroimaging methods. This line of research also seeks to establish neural mechanisms involved in various neurocognitive disorders to be distinguished from neuropsychiatric comorbidities.
  3. Conducting preclinical research, to develop and validate models predicting how the brain may react to multiple repeated insults in everyday life, to better understand how these insults affect cognition, and to practice prevention whenever possible, helping people know when to seek treatment. A number of cognitive deficits may be halted or even reversed if caught early on.
  4. Facilitating greater awareness in both medical community and general public as to the latest neuroscientific methods, findings, and treatments of neurocognitive diseases.

The NCRI is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

* The National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) fails to list any iteration of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue and Immune Deficiency Syndrome, Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease, etc. in its list of neuro disorders. NINDS does not list the disease.

**The definition of encephalitis is inflammation of the brain. If this inflammation goes beyond a certain point, the person will die from the encephalitis (inflammation) alone.


 About the Founders

Marcie Zinn, Ph.D. focuses her research on the autonomic and cognitive neuroscience aspects of Myalgic Encephalitis Syndrome (ME), Migraine Syndrome, Gulf War Illness, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy and Multiple Sclerosis. Along with her husband, Mark, she explores the pathogenesis of patients compared to neurologically healthy controls to characterize the elements which underlie symptoms in these uniquely related neuroloogical disorders. Utilizing a combination of interviews, paper-and-pencil testing and swLORETA techniques, she examines the role of the entire cortex in the pathogenesis of these and other neuro-disorders. Other related methods used include neurofeedback and biofeedback techniques for symptom management. Another line of research involves developing relevant test instruments designed specifically for this clinical population. Current tests were developed for other neurological patients including patients other neurological disorders, but no tests of any type, with the exception of one screening instrument, have ever been developed for other neuro-disorders. Currently, she and Dr. Mark are exploring how movement dysfunction occurs in neurological disorders. By measuring the Autonomic Nervous System along with brain regions such as the cerebellum and movement cortices in the cerebrum, she and Dr. Mark are testing hypotheses about how the brain damage in those locations bring about exhaustion. Her research stems from the hypothesis that the cortex can be conceptualized as a set of brain network dynamics whereby the integrity of networks are dependent on every part of the network. For example, if one part of the network ceases to function well, the entire network is affected. Dr. Marcie hypothesizes that network models can be developed to examine the clinical spectrum of cognitive impairment in all patients with neurocognitive disorders. Confirmation of these hypotheses has potential implications for a vast number of neurological diseases including the neuro-disorders listed above along with neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, and depression. Dr. Zinn's overall mission is to study the quantification of cognitive impairment within a complex systems framework for characterizing neurological diseases thereby adding to our fundamental knowledge of cognition, brain, and nervous system.

Mark Zinn, Ph.D., has expertise in quantitative and tomographic EEG methods to test hypotheses in studies involving neurocognitive disorders. For 3 years he served as a medical research consultant at Stanford School of Medicine to study brain electrical activity correlates of cognitive impairment in Infection-associated chronic diseases. He obtained his Ph.D. at DePaul University, where he worked with Dr. Leonard Jason and conducted research studies on patients with ME/CFS. Using an electrical neuroimaging approach, he was able to characterize neuronal dysregulation within specific brain regions and brain systems contributing to decreasing arousal levels and cortical hypofunction in patients. Mark also offers a unique perspective with his multi-disciplinary background in music and science. After having obtained a master of music degree and performers certificate (artist diploma) in piano performance, he subsequently re-specialized in health psychology with emphasis in neuroscience. For the past 15 years, he has been an author in numerous publications and conference presentations related to behavioral medicine and quantitative EEG in the performing arts. He is now co-director of the NeuroCognitive Research Institute, with primary focus to promote research aimed at advancing the diagnosis and treatment of diseases affecting the brain.