Adaptive Change in the Nervous System
Our lab focuses on understanding the nature of adaptive change in the nervous system. We use the rodent visual system as our primary model, and combine cellular, electrophysiological, and theoretical methodologies, with measures of behaviour in freely-moving animals.
One research stream is aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlying experience-dependent plasticity of vision. Typically, we test hypotheses by altering visual experience in a specific way, and then measuring the effects on visual function in animals with cellular perturbations. Currently, we are manipulating the function of the retina and visual cortex to establish the substrates underlying novel forms of developmental and adult visual plasticity.
Another stream focuses on developing treatments for retinal degenerative disease. We have utilized proactive cell-based retinal transplantation methods that circumvent immune system barriers, to limit the loss of vision in animals with retinal mutations that lead to the loss of vision. We hare currently testing the hypothesis that the expressivity of a retinal mutation and the efficacy of preventive therapies is modulated by retinal plasticity and visual experience.
We are also involved in the development of rehabilitative strategies for stroke. We have developed rodent models of cortical stroke, and manipulate post-stroke stroke experience to facilitate recovery. At present, we are focussing on individualized pre-stroke experience as a causal factor in the manifestation of, and the functional recovery from, a stroke.
Additional projects include investigations of the mechanisms underlying visual discrimination learning, visual recognition memory, cross-modal plasticity, and retinal coding.