Research

Research

Our laboratory combines engineering and neuroscience to tackle real-world problems. We utilize techniques including intracellular and extracellular electrophysiology, computational modeling, and real-time computing.  Our past and present research has been supported by government funding agencies (NIH, NSF, DARPA), foundations (James S. McDonnell Foundation) and corporations (GlaxoSmithKline, Proctor and Gamble, Axion Biosystems).  Texas Instruments has generously provided equipment donations.

Neuromodulation of peripheral nerve activity.

High frequency (5-100 kHz) electrical stimulation can block conduction in peripheral nerves to and from the brain. Our work builds upon this and investigates how in certain circumstances, this electrical block can be selective towards specific fiber-types.  We use in vitro and in vivo experiments along with human studies and computational modeling to understand how block is achieved and the limitations of its specificity towards different fiber-types.  Applications include metabolic control of blood glucose via neuromodulation of the liver and modulation of sensorimotor function.

Real-time computing methods for electrophysiology experiments.

20131021_120536Our lab develops open source software (RTXI) and hardware (PuggleBoard) that allow real-time computer simulations to interact with on-going experiments. In general, the system is designed to solve large sets of differential equations in real-time, which maintaining time-locking with external inputs from experiments and generating outputs back to those same experiments.

This closed-loop paradigm is called the “dynamic clamp” in neuroscience, but this approach can be applied to many other types of experiments as well. Currently, over 60 labs around the world utilize our real-time platforms for investigating both neural and cardiac electrophysiology.