The Hotchkiss Brain Institute
Healthy Brains for Better Lives
The long-term objective of my research program is to contribute to the understanding of the functions of the hippocampal formation and its related structures (limbic cortex). My guiding hypothesis has been that these structures play a role in sensorimotor integration Specifically, I have posited that certain components of the neural circuitry in limbic cortex function in the capacity of providing voluntary motor systems with continually updated feedback on their own performance relative to changing environmental (sensory) conditions. A crucial aspect of this performance is the intensity with which the motor programs are initiated and maintained. The components of the neural circuitry involved in sensorimotor integration are those underlying the production of oscillation and synchrony (theta) in limbic cortex. Therefore, the main approach of my research has been to use electrophysiological, neuropharmacological and behavioural techniques to elucidate the extrinsic and intrinsic properties underlying oscillation and synchrony in limbic cortex. The properties of oscillation and synchrony are characteristic of many neurons throughout the central nervous system. Part of my research program over the years has been investigating the role of the posterior hypothalamus (PH) as part of the ascending brainstem hippocampal synchronizing system. My lab recently demonstrated that high frequency electrical stimulation (DBS) of the PH reverses akinesia in two separate animal models of Parkinson’s Disease and we are currently carrying out research into the mechanisms of this effect.