Neural Engineering Laboratory

High-frequency deep brain stimulation (DBS) is an effective treatment for Parkinson's disease, tremor, epilepsy, dystonia, and depression. However, the precise mechanisms of action for the therapeutic effects of DBS are unknown.

Because both DBS and lesionectomy target similar brain regions, many researchers believe that electrical stimulation works through neuronal inhibition. However, this lab has found that DBS results in excitation of neuronal and glial elements, suggesting that electrically excited neurotransmitter release may be the mechanism of action of DBS. Accordingly, our lab is studying how DBS effects changes in neuronal action potential firing and modifies neural network activities. To study the mechanism of action of DBS, we perform fluorescent microscopy along with intra-cellular and extra-cellular electrophysiologic recordings.

In addition, our lab also utilizes electrochemical techniques of constant potential amperometry to measure neurotransmitter levels both in the in vivo and in vitro settings. Through this research, our lab hopes to combine sophisticated electrophysiological recordings with miniaturized analytical elements (micropressors) to augment and repair disrupted brain functions. Thus, we are actively involved with biomedical engineers to develop the next generation of deep brain stimulation devices.