Activity-Dependent Plasticity

Cellular activity is the basis of nervous system communication, and it is also a potent tool to alter connections. We target electrical stimulation to the sensorimotor circuits spared by injury in an effort to have them take over the functions of lost connections. An appealing attribute of electrical stimulation is that it can be targeted to adaptive connections to restore function. We have observed short term adaptation of neural circuits to stimulation, which are likely synaptic effects. Electrical stimulation also causes circuits to sprout at their terminations and to form functional connections. These new connections are further reinforced in the setting of repeated practice. Our goal is to better understand the mechanisms of activity-dependent plasticity so that we can apply in the most effective way for therapy.