The Electrophysiology Laboratory focuses on three areas of research:
- Development of deep brain electrical stimulation as a therapy for epilepsy: The laboratory is working to identify stimulation paradigms that are effective in experimental animal models of epilepsy that can eventually be translated to the clinical setting. The laboratory has the capability to detect electrographic (EEG) and behavioral seizures in awake, freely-moving animals using a 12 cage video/EEG rodent monitoring unit. The development of new therapies for epilepsy is particularly relevant to individuals with developmental disabilities, in whom the incidence of seizures is greatly elevated: incidence is estimated at 35% in individuals with autism spectrum disorders, 18% in those with fragile X syndrome, 8% in those with Down syndrome, and 80% in those with Angelman syndrome. Seizures have a negative impact on the quality of life of individuals with developmental disabilities, and, when uncontrolled, can contribute to the developmental delay and the ultimate disability they experience.
- Determination of the effect of developmental hypothyroidism on brain development: Severe developmental hypothyroidism can cause profound alterations in brain development, leading to cretinism. Having recently discovered a brain malformation in the offspring of hypothyroid rats, the laboratory is now working to identify the critical developmental windows when thyroid hormones are required for normal brain development as well as the developmental processes that are altered when hormone levels are too low.
- Development of neuroprotective/antiepileptogenic agents to prevent posttraumatic epilepsy after traumatic brain injury (TBI). A significant number of patients will develop epilepsy after a traumatic brain injury. The onset of epilepsy can often occur several months after the TBI. The laboratory is using advanced tissue-clearing techniques to identify biomarkers of the epileptogenic process that could be therapeutic targets for the prevention of posttraumatic epilepsy.