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The Cognitive Neuropsychiatric Research Laboratory (CNRLab) is part of the Division of Cognitive Neuroscience within the Department of Neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Its current projects include investigating the motor system's contribution to cognitive function; HIV-related neuroplasticity and attention-to-reward as predictors of real world function; and brain function and cognition in Lyme disease.
The Mollie Meffert Lab studies mechanisms underlying enduring changes in brain function. We are interested in understanding how programs of gene expression are coordinated and maintained to produce changes in synaptic, neuronal and cognitive function. Rather than concentrating on single genes, our research is particularly focused on understanding the upstream processes that allow neuronal stimuli to synchronously orchestrate both up and down-regulation of the many genes required to mediate changes in growth and excitation. This process of gene target specificity is implicit to the appropriate production of gene expression programs that control lasting alterations in brain function.
Our team is focused on understanding how complex movements are normally learned and controlled, and how damage to specific brain areas impairs these processes. We employ several techniques to quantify movement including: 3-dimensional tracking and reconstruction of movement, recordings of muscle activity, force plate recordings, and calculation of joint forces and torques. These techniques allow for very precise measurements of many different types of movements including: walking, reaching, leg movements, hand movements and standing balance. All studies are designed to test specific hypotheses about the function of different brain areas, the cause of specific impairments and/or the effects of different interventions.
The mission and interest of the neuroengineering and Biomedical Instrumentation Lab is to develop novel instrumentation and technologies to study the brain at several levels--from single cell to the whole brain--with the goal of translating the work into practical research and clinical applications.
Our personnel include diverse, independent-minded and entrepreneurial students, post docs, and research faculty who base their research on modern microfabrication, stem cell biology, electrophysiology, signal processing, image processing, and integrated circuit design technologies.
The neuroimaging and Modulation Laboratory (NIMLAB) investigates neural correlates of cognition and behavior using neuroimaging methods such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and neuromodulation techniques such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). We are looking in depth at the contributions of the cerebellum and cerebro-cerebellar circuits to cognition; the effects of chronic heavy alcohol consumption on cognition and brain activation underlying cognitive function; how aging in humans affects neural systems that are important for associative learning and stimulus awareness; and the integration of transcranial magnetic stimulation with functional MRI.
Neuromodulation and Advanced Therapies Center
We investigate the brain networks and neurotransmitters involved in symptoms of movement disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, and the mechanisms by which modulating these networks through electrical stimulation affects these symptoms. We are particularly interested in the mechanisms through which neuromodulation therapies like deep brain stimulation affect non-motor brain functions, such as cognitive function and mood. We use imaging of specific neurotransmitters, such as acetylcholine and dopamine, to understand the changes in brain chemistry associated with the clinical effects of deep brain stimulation and to predict which patients are likely to have changes in non-motor symptoms following DBS. Through collaborations with our neurosurgery colleagues, we explore brain function by making recordings during DBS surgery during motor and non-motor tasks. Dr. Mills collaborates with researchers in the Department of Neurosurgery, the Division of Geriatric and Neuropsychiatry in the Depar...tment of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and in the Division of Nuclear Medicine within the Department of Radiology to translate neuroimaging and neurophysiology findings into clinical applications. view more
Directed by Debraj “Raj” Mukherjee, MD, MPH, the laboratory focuses on improving access to care, reducing disparities, maximizing surgical outcomes, and optimizing quality of life for patients with brain and skull base tumors.
The laboratory achieves these aims by creating and analyzing institutional and national databases, developing and validating novel patient-centered quality of life instruments, leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence platforms to risk-stratify vulnerable patient populations, and designing novel surgical trials to push the boundaries of neurosurgical innovation.
Our research also investigates novel approaches to improve neurosurgical medical education including studying the utility of video-based surgical coaching and the design of new operative instrumentation.
Neuro-Vestibular and Ocular Motor Laboratory
In our laboratory we study the brain mechanisms of eye movements and spatial orientation.
-How magnetic stimulation through transcranial devices affects cortical brain regions
-Neural mechanisms underlying balance, spatial orientation and eye movement
-Mathematical models that describe the function of ocular motor systems and perception of spatial orientation
-Short- and long-term adaptive processes underlying compensation for disease and functional recovery in patients with ocular motor, vestibular and perceptual dysfunction
Developing and testing novel diagnostic tools, treatments, and rehabilitative strategies for patients with ocular motor, vestibular and spatial dysfunction
How do brain dynamics give rise to our sensory experience of the world? The O'Connor lab works to answer this question by taking advantage of the fact that key architectural features of the mammalian brain are similar across species. This allows us to leverage the power of mouse genetics to monitor and manipulate genetically and functionally defined brain circuits during perception. We train mice to perform simple perceptual tasks. By using quantitative behavior, optogenetic and chemical-genetic gain- and loss-of-function perturbations, in vivo two-photon imaging, and electrophysiology, we assemble a description of the relationship between neural circuit function and perception. We work in the mouse tactile system to capitalize on an accessible mammalian circuit with a precise mapping between the sensory periphery and multiple brain areas. Our mission is to reveal the neural circuit foundations of sensory perception; to provide a framework to understand how circuit dysfunction causes ...mental and behavioral aspects of neuropsychiatric illness; and to help others fulfill creative potential and contribute to human knowledge. view more
Our research is directed toward how the brain controls the movements of the eyes (including eye movements induced by head motion) using studies in normal human beings, patients and experimental animals. The focus is on mechanisms underlying adaptive ocular motor control. More specifically, what are mechanisms by which the brain learns to cope with the changes associated with normal development and aging as well as the damage associated with disease and trauma? How does the brain keep its eye movement reflexes properly calibrated? Our research strategy is to make accurate, quantitative measures of eye movements in response to precisely controlled stimuli and then use the analytical techniques of the control systems engineer to interpret the findings.
Research areas: 1) learning and compensation for vestibular disturbances that occur either within the labyrinth or more centrally within the brain, 2) the mechanisms by which the brain maintains correct alignment of the eyes to prevent d...iplopia and strabismus, and 3) the role of ocular proprioception in localizing objects in space for accurate eye-hand coordination.