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Mechanisms of Cortico-Subcortical Signaling and Plasticity

Teresa Sanders
Vanderbilt University
Departments of Pharmacology and Biomedical Engineering
2220 Pierce Avenue, 416 PRB
Nashville, TN 37232
770-862-2590 (office)
teresa.h.sanders@vanderbilt.edu

Mechanisms of Cortico-Subcortical Signaling and Plasticity

My lab studies intrinsic and synaptic mechanisms of cortico-subcortical signaling and plasticity using state-of-the-art methods in epigenetics, in vivo electrophysiology, optogenetics, specific neuromodulation, and real-time imaging of calcium and neurotransmitter release. Data are analyzed with standard statistical methods as well as advanced image and signal processing, machine learning, and bioinformatic techniques. Previous published research interpreted electrical single cell and field potential activity simultaneously acquired from the cortex, globus pallidus, and subthalamic nucleus (STN) in monkey models of progressive Parkinson’s disease (PD), and ameliorated parkinsonism in a PD mouse model through specific optogenetic stimulation of the cortico-subthalamic pathway. The results from these studies yielded important clues regarding the nature of glutamatergic synaptic changes and cortico-basal ganglia circuit alterations in the parkinsonian condition, identified cortico-subthalamic mechanisms of deep brain stimulation, and produced translational biomarkers that enable assessment of PD from human patients. My current Neuroscience mentees are working on analysis of methyl-binding-domain and chromatin conformation changes in mouse models of learning disabilities, and on identifying neuromodulation-induced epigenetic changes in cortico-subcortical circuits associated with enhanced learning and memory in rats. Moving forward, my goal is to understand the cellular changes and circuit imbalances that underlie cortico-subcortical intrinsic and synaptic disorders and to develop molecular, cellular, and network-level neuromodulation and pharmacologic therapies for ameliorating symptoms and restoring function.