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Research in the Bakker Memory Laboratory is focused on understanding the mechanisms and brain networks underlying human cognition with a specific focus on the mechanisms underlying learning and memory and the changes in memory that occur with aging and disease. We use a variety of techniques including neuropsychological assessments, experimental behavioral assessments and particularly advanced neuroimaging methods to study these questions in young and older adults and patients with mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.
Through our collaborations with investigators in both basic science and clinical departments, including the departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Psychological and Brain Sciences, Neurology and Public Health, our research also focuses on brain systems involved in spatial navigation and decision-making as well as cognitive impairment in neuropsychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, eating disorders, obsessiv...e-compulsive disorders, depression and anxiety. view more
The Bergles Laboratory studies synaptic physiology, with an emphasis on glutamate transporters and glial involvement in neuronal signaling. We are interested in understanding the mechanisms by which neurons and glial cells interact to support normal communication in the nervous system. The lab studies glutamate transport physiology and function. Because glutamate transporters play a critical role in glutamate homeostasis, understanding the transporters' function is relevant to numerous neurological ailments, including stroke, epilepsy, and neurodegenerative diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Other research in the laboratory focuses on signaling between neurons and glial cells at synapses. Understanding how neurons and cells communicate, may lead to new approaches for stimulating re-myelination following injury or disease. Additional research in the lab examines how a unique form of glia-to-neuron signaling in the cochlea influences auditory system development, whethe...r defects in cell communication lead to certain hereditary forms of hearing impairment, and if similar mechanisms are related to sound-induced tinnitus. view more
The goal of functional neurosurgery research in the Functional Neurosurgery Laboratory is to develop models to understand how brain function is affected by conditions like epilepsy and Parkinson's disease, and how this abnormal function might be corrected or minimized by neuromodulation through electrical stimulation.
There is a limited window of time to collect information about abnormal brain function from recordings in the operating room or Epilepsy Monitoring Unit. The data that is collected, however, can be used to construct models of brain function in patients with epilepsy or Parkinson's disease. These models can be manipulated to explore functional changes and treatment possibilities.
The FNL uses computational modeling of epilepsy as a method to understand how seizures develop, and how and where they spread in the brain. The modeling methods include large arrays of single compartment models and multi-compartment simulations of neurons to allow researchers to observe ele...ctrophysiological activity in the brain.
Other projects include the development of a neuromodulation system that applies stimulation pulses at specific phases of brain oscillatory activity. This may be useful for the treatment of Parkinson's disease and memory disorders. view more
The research activities of the Neuroimmunopathology Laboratory focus on studies of immunological and molecular mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis of neurological disorders. Our main areas of research include studies of neurological complications of HIV infection and AIDS, multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis, autism and epilepsy. We seek to explore and identify immunopathological mechanisms associated with neurological disease that may be the target of potential therapeutic interventions. The laboratory collaborates with other researchers and laboratories at Johns Hopkins and other institutions in projects related with studies of the interaction between the immune and central nervous systems in pathological processes leading to neurological dysfunction.
The studies of the Functional Neurosurgery Lab currently test whether neural activity related to the experimental vigilance and conditioned expectation toward pain can be described by interrelated networks in the brain. These two psychological dimensions play an important role in chronic pain syndromes, but their neuroscience is poorly understood. Our studies of spike trains and LFPs utilize an anatomically focused platform with high temporal resolution, which complements fMRI studies surveying the whole brain at lower resolution. This platform to analyze the oscillatory power of structures in the brain, and functional connections (interactions and synchrony and causal interactions) between these structures based upon signals recorded directly from the waking human brain during surgery for epilepsy and movement disorders, e.g. tremor. Our studies have demonstrated that behaviors related to vigilance and expectation are related to electrical signals from the cortex and subcortical struc...tures.
These projects are based upon the combined expertise of Dr. Nathan Crone in recordings and clinical management of the patients studied; Dr. Anna Korzeniewska in the analyses of signals recorded from the brain; Drs. Claudia Campbell, Luana Colloca and Rick Gracely in the clinical psychology and cognitive neurology of the expectation of pain and chronic pain; Dr. Joel Greenspan in quantitative sensory testing; and Dr. Martin Lindquist in the statistical techniques. Dr. Lenz has conducted studies of this type for more than thirty years with continuous NIH funding. view more
Epilepsy affects 1-3% of the population and can have a profound impact on general health, employment and quality of life. Medial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) develops in some patients following head injury or repeated febrile seizures. Those affected may first suffer spontaneous seizures many years after the initial insult, indicating that the neural circuit undergoes a slow pathologic remodeling over the interim. There are currently no methods of preventing the development of MTLE. It is our goal to better understand the process in order to slow, halt, and ultimately reverse it.
Our laboratory draws on electrophysiology, molecular biology, and morphology to study the contribution of dysregulated neurogenesis and newborn neuron connectivity to the development of MTLE. We build on basic research in stem cell biology, hippocampal development, and synaptic plasticity. We work closely with colleagues in the Institute for Cell Engineering, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Biomedical Engineering..., and Radiology. As physician neuropathologists our grounding is in tissue alterations underlying human neurologic disease; using human iPSC-derived neurons and surgical specimens we focus on the pathophysiological processes as they occur in patients.
By understanding changes in cell populations and morphologies that affect the circuit, and identifying pathologic alterations in gene expression that lead to the cell-level abnormalities, we hope to find treatment targets that can prevent the remodeling and break the feedback loop of abnormal activity > circuit change > abnormal activity. view more