Neural Engineering and Rehabilitation Design
The focus of our lab is on developing novel neural interfaces as well as investigating the plasticity mechanism of the brain. Our goal is to reveal underlying mechanisms of brain plasticity that lead to functional recovery from stroke, which can provide us with vital insight to develop stimulation-based therapies not only for stroke but also for a broad range of neurological disorders. We use a combination of electrophysiological recordings in behaving animals, real-time detection and manipulation of physiological patterns, and perturbation of neural activity in specific circuits during behavior, to determine causal links between physiological phenomena and therapeutic outcomes. In particular, the unique tool we use is optogenetics since it enables us to manipulate neural activity with high spatial and temporal resolution via virally transfected neurons containing light-sensitive ion channels. In addition to its potential for greater spatial resolution and cell-type specificity, this technique offers the significant advantage of artifact-free electrophysiological recording during stimulation. This novel use of optogenetics offers new opportunities to create sophisticated closed-loop stimulation and recording paradigms, and helps us to understand the role of the basic physiological and therapeutic phenomena.
Our research projects
The goal of this project is to reveal underlying mechanisms of brain plasticity that lead to functional connectivity and recovery from injury.
In this project we use activity-dependent stimulation to provide more robust neural plasticity, higher functional and temporal specificity and to restore normal patterns of functional connectivity between cortical regions post-injury. Furthermore the use of optogenetics enables us to manipulate neural activity with high spatial and temporal resolution via virally transfected neurons containing light-sensitive ion channels.
This project provides critical insight into the fundamentals of functional connectivity and its role in brain plasticity following injury, demonstrates the power of targeted, activity-dependent cortical stimulation to drive rehabilitative reorganization, and may have a profound impact on future therapeutic interventions for neurological disorders.
The focus of this project is to develop a large-scale interface that provides stable access for optical stimulation and concurrent monitoring of neural activity by incorporating novel technological advances and multi-modal stimulation and recording.
Non-human primate (NHP) models are critical for preclinical, translational studies to address potential discrepancies between rodent and human studies. Due to the scarcity of stroke studies in NHPs, few experimental models have been developed. The goal of this project is to develop and test practical model of ischemic stroke in these animals.
Post-stroke cognitive impairment in various domains from attention deficits to memory problems are very common in stroke victims. The goal of this project is to investigate cortical and hippocampal oscillations following cortical stroke in rats to understand the underlying neural mechanisms.