Network Basis of Motor Behavior in Intact & Injured States
Our research interests are in motor-systems neuroscience, especially in understanding how motor control and motor learning is enacted by motor networks in the intact and injured states. We are using electrophysiology tools in rodents and humans to study these processes at the single neuronal and network level. Our rodent studies are geared towards gathering a mechanistic understanding of neural processes that underlie motor control and skill consolidation. Profiling this activity in injured states such as stroke can be very wieldy to identify biomarkers for recovery that can then be targets for augmentation through electrical stimulation. Immediate goals of the lab are to characterize emergent neural activity in cerebello-cortical ensembles with motor learning, and also to test efficacy of closed-loop stimulation to these areas in a brain recovering from stroke.
Two neurons recorded during two brain-machine interface-training sessions (left), and one cell’s optogenetic inhibition during intervening sleep (right).
Recruiting Spinal Apparatus
We are also interested in understanding how these supraspinal circuits relay information to spinal outputs that instantiate specific muscle patterns during execution of motor tasks. We characterize this output as muscle synergies, which can be a very useful metric in motor injuries from a diagnostic standpoint. We are interested in evaluating muscle synergies in the intact nervous system, post-injury, as well as employ it to check the outcome of our interventions aimed at promoting recovery.
Muscle synergies from both hind limbs showing that energy balances in a synergy are unilateral (represent muscles from one leg).
Leveraging the strong human neurophysiology research at Cedars, and using the knowledge derived from our basic studies, we are also working towards implementing targeted circuit manipulation strategies that include neuromodulation and brain-computer-interfaces in clinical populations.