Basic Science Research

NEUROBIOLOGY OF THE DYING BRAIN:  One of the newest projects in our lab is to define electrical oscillations of the brain at the systems level in distressed animals.  This new line of research utilizes physical principles of vibrations and waves and mathematical modeling of brain oscillations, and requires skills in Matlab and signal processing.  These studies aim to provide a better understanding of how the brain processes information during both normal and abnormal states, and may lead to a better understanding of human near-death experiences.

BRAIN-HEART CONNECTION:  How does the heart of a healthy individual cease to function within just a few minutes in the absence of oxygen?  We addressed this issue by simultaneously examining the heart and the brain in animal models during asphyxiation and found that asphyxia markedly stimulates neurophysiological and neurochemical activities of the brain.  Furthermore, previously unidentified corticocardiac coupling showed increased intensity as the heart deteriorated.  Blocking efferent input to the heart markedly increased survival time of both the heart and the brain.  The results show that targeting the brain’s outflow may be an effective strategy to delay the death of the heart and the brain from asphyxia. One of our ongoing studies focuses on the role of brain efferent signaling in accelerating cardiac demise in neurological crisis including stroke.