Mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) frequently causes persistent sleep/wake disturbances, which are often debilitating and can hinder cognitive rehabilitation. My laboratory studies the neurobiological cascade of events following mild TBI, with the goal of identifying mechanisms underlying sleep/wake disturbances and potential therapies for intervention. To accomplish this, we use chronic in vivo EEG recording, in combination with in vivo microdialysis and animal behavior testing in freely behaving mice. We apply novel computational approaches to the EEG analyses of sleep-wake rhythms to identify signatures unique to TBI, both as a diagnostic tool and a prognostic indicator of outcomes. We recently identified a dietary therapy, composed of branched chain amino acids, which improves wakefulness after brain injury.
The presence of strong social support predicts better clinical outcomes in TBI patients; however the mechanisms underlying this apparent social neuroprotective effect are unknown. A second line of research in my laboratory investigates the role of oxytocin, a neuropeptide hormone that modulates social behavior, as a potential neuroprotective agent in TBI. To accomplish this, we use the prairie vole, a monogamous rodent that forms lifelong pair bonds, as a model of social bonding to study in the role of oxytocin in TBI.Read more
Areas of interest
- Traumatic brain injury
- Post-traumatic stress disorder