Gerlinde A. Metz
Preferred method of communication
University of Lethbridge
4401 University Drive W
Lethbridge, AB T1K
Research and teaching
My current research uses a comprehensice assessment of behavioural, physiological, morphological, molecular and genetic influences determining recovery after brain damage, including stoke and Parkinson's disease. Using innovative comprehensive behavioural analysis, our research has shown that motor performance can be modified by experience and life style factors, such as nutrition, exercise, and adverse experience. For example, enriched environment improves motor function in naive animals and also supports recovery processes after lesion. In contrast to enrichment, specific training of a skilled task might promote recovery, but this improvement may come at the expense of an untrained task.
In contrast to beneficial effects of environmental enrichment, adverse experience also is a significant influence on motor function and recovery. We have shown that adverse experience, such as stress, affects normal motor function and movement recovery after stroke. Adverse experience determines task-specific compensatory limb use while limiting genuine behavrioural recovery. Moreover, our data were the first to show that stress and elevated levels of stress hormones play a role in degenerative mechanisms in a rat model of Parkinson's disease. Interestingly, stress-induced changes in motor function are linked to altered intracellular signalling pathways of cell survival and DNA repair. The overall goal of this research is to improve existing therapies for brain damage and to develop possible novel therapeutic avenues.