The primary research focus of my laboratory is to understand how the brain processes sensory information to produce intelligent motor output. In our lab we combine simultaneous recording of large numbers of neurons with computation models of neural systems to better understand how the brain processes sensory information and develops an adaptive, intelligent motor plan. The lab includes state-of-the-art Multiple Neuron data Acquisition System (MNAP) that can simultaneously record up to 256 single neurons from electrodes chronically implanted into the brain of laboratory animals. The lab also has a dedicated rodent surgical suite and two isolated behavioral rooms.
In collaboration with the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, our main research project, Recovery of Function after Spinal Cord Damage, is funded by the National Institutes of Health. Our lab is examining plasticity in the sensorimotor system after spinal injury and repair. The major aim of the Project is to develop strategies for restoring sensorimotor function after spinal injury. Using the MNAP system, we record single neuron activity from up to 48 electrodes chronically implanted into the sensorimotor systems of rats before and after spinal injury and repair. This data will be used to better understand the role of supraspinal system in rehabilitation and also be used to create new devices for interfacing with the neural systems of spinal injured patients to facilitate movement.
In addition to the neural recordings and computational modeling, the lab has also been involved in the development of novel device to interface with brain. A preliminary patent has been submitted on new ceramic-based multi-site recording electrodes that have been shown to chronically record single neuron action potentials for up to 3 months. We have also shown that these electrodes can record nanomolar concentrations of neurotransmitters including glutatmate, dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine. We are enhancing the capabilities of these electrodes with signal processing techniques to develop brain-machine interface devices for clinical applications. For example, by using these electrodes to monitor seizure activity of neurons we hope to predict seizure onset and provide intervention to prevent the seizure or use the electrodes as a novel stimulation device for Parkinson's that can also monitor local concentration of dopamine.