BiographySydney S. Cash, MD, PhD, received his MD and PhD degrees from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, completed his Neurology residency and was a Chief Resident at MGH and BWH. Dr. Cash is on the Neurology staff at MGH, and is an Assistant Professor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Cash is a specialist in epilepsy with research expertise in cortical microphysiology, including research with the investigating the mechanisms of diseases such as epilepsy and ways of interfacing with the brain for improving the lives of people with seizures, paralysis and other neurological difficulties.
The focus of Dr. Cash's lab is on trying to understand how the brain works under both normal and pathological conditions with an ultimate goal of developing techniques for diagnosing and treating some of the most devastating diseases. We are particularly focused on using approaches which extract information at multiple scales and then combine them into a more complete and meaningful understanding of brain physiology. We feel this multi-scalar, multi-modal approach is particularly powerful for understanding the human brain because of its complexity and architecture which is, by nature, multi-scalar.
We employ non-invasive measures of brain activity (MEG, EEG, fMRI) and structure (MRI) to get a holistic view of the brain. We also use very specialized methods of recording directly from either human or rodent cortex including techniques to record the activity of single human neurons while patients are awake (microelectrode recordings) and optogenetic methods to control individual neurons. By necessity and, more importantly, our philosophy of best practices in science, we collaborate with many of researchers to perform these studies. Our projects are focused on understanding four core, but overlapping, areas:
1. Normal cognition
2. The physiology and importance of sleep and dreaming
3. The basic physiology of cortical and subcortical oscillations
4. Controlling seizures
Long-range goals include the development of new methods for identifying seizure areas, predicting seizures and then stopping them. We are also using these techniques to move toward new ways of interacting directly with the human nervous system for diagnosis and repair or replacement (neuroprosthetics and brain-computer interfaces) of damaged nervous system tissue.
ESTABLISHED IN 2011 by ECOR and the MGH Research Advisory Council, the MGH Research Scholars program provides five years of unrestricted funding to give innovative investigators the flexibility to pursue projects that may lead in unexpected directions. Supported by philanthropic gifts, the program expanded from the first group of five recipients to eight scholars in 2012.
The first study to examine the activity of hundreds of individual human brain cells during seizures has found that seizures begin with extremely diverse neuronal activity, contrary to the classic view that they are characterized by massively synchronized activity.
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