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Neuronal Communication and Restoration Lab

The Neuronal Communication and Restoration Lab probes the mechanisms by which individual neurons communicate locally and across cortical areas, and investigate new approaches for reconstituting the line of communication across areas disrupted within the CNS.

Absract representation of neurons

Absract representation of neurons

Overview

Despite continued scrutiny into the single-neuronal correlates of motor and cognitive behavior, remarkably little remains known about the mechanisms by which information is communicated between neurons locally or across cortical areas. Such communication is central to neuronal functioning at a systems level, yet remains among the most poorly understood topics in neuroscience. 

The focus of the Neuronal Communication and Restoration Lab is to interrogate multiple-neuronal ensembles across interconnected cortical areas, and examine the manner by which communication between neurons correlates with ongoing behavior.

Group Members

  • Ziv Williams, MD Assistant Professor in Neurosurgery, Attending Neurosurgeon
  • Rollin Hu, Post-doctoral fellow
  • Wenhua Zhang, Post-doctoral fellow
  • Keren Haroush, Post-doctoral fellow
  • Kostas Spiliopoulos, Post-doctoral fellow
  • Michelle Vidal , Research fellow
  • Nive Jerath, Neurology resident
  • Maryam Shanechi, Graduate student
  • Morgan Jamiel, Graduate student
  • Rebecca Gwaltney, Undergraduate student
  • Marissa Powers, Undergraduate student

Research Projects

Probing Neuronal Communication
We are specifically targeting tasks that engage the acquisition of dynamic motor responses, and are examining the underlying neuronal processing that allow such information to be "transferred" from one area within the CNS to the other.  These and similar findings may answer a number of basic questions about the process by which multi-modal information is shared between cortical areas and how concerted neuronal activity may instruct downstream areas responsible for cognitive and executive control.

Restoring Neuronal CommunicationDespite intense scientific effort, there remains virtually no effective treatments for reconstituting the "line of communication" across areas damaged within the CNS. The second main aim of the lab is to develop new approaches for transforming recorded neuronal activity into signals that can be used to drive intact downstream areas within the CNS such as the spinal cord. Our group and others had previously demonstrated that ensemble neuronal activity may accurately predict movement intention, and that delivery of event-related electrical stimuli in areas responsible for motor production can reproducibly alter targeted limb movement. Our current goal is to exploit these properties in order to systematically dissociate and approximate movement production with motor intent. Such findings may offer alternate strategies leveraged to circumvent damaged areas within the CNS, and provide a unique perspective into the individual roles that motor cortical neurons and spinal efferent activity play in adaptive motor behavior.

 

Research Positions

There are no available positons at this time.  Please check back at a later date for updates.

Dr. Ziv Williams, MD

Wang Ambulatory Care Center
15 Parkman Street
WAC 745K
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-643-4102
Email: zwilliams@partners.org

Public Transportation Access: yes