1. Repair of the damaged corticospinal system in adult animals:
Using a wide range of methods—including chronic and acute electrophysiology, viral tracing, optogenetics, molecular genetics, molecular biology, behavioral testing modeling—we study ways to promote corticospinal tract axonal sprouting in damaged and spared corticospinal tracts after several different kinds of injury models.
- To harness activity-dependent processes to promote corticospinal axon sprouting.
- To elucidate the molecular changes in corticospinal neurons in response to stimulation that promotes axon sprouting.
- To study the mechanism of synaptic competition in shaping the response of CST axons, proprioceptive afferents, and other spinal inputs after injury.
- To translate neuromodulatory approaches in animals to become effective therapies for people with spinal cord injury.
2. Functional development of the motor system in developing animals:
Using many of the same methods we use for the adult injury studies we examine systems-level mechanisms for the formation of function connections of the corticospinal system for controlling skilled movements.
- To determine when the CST come “on-line” during postnatal development to control skilled movements.
- To investigate the interactions between the corticospinal and rubrospinal systems during typical development and after postnatal motor cortex stroke
- To determine the role of activity and experience in shaping motor system development
3. Leveraging developmental genetics to promote function after CST injury:
In collaboration with several labs, we are examining ways to promote novel connections between motor cortex and motoneurons to restore function after injury by harnessing genetic mechanisms and activity-dependent processes.