Research overview

The PMRF Lab conducts animal research and human-subjects research in the broad fields of neurophysiology, neural engineering, and neurological rehabilitation. We are particularly interested in the ways that brainstem-spinal neural circuits integrate sensorimotor information after stroke and spinal cord injury, and how technology can be used to exploit the adaptive capacity of the central nervous system (CNS) to improve therapeutic outcomes.

In one line of research, we use recurrent neural-computer interfaces (rNCI), also known as closed-loop or bi-directional neural-computer interfaces, to study neural plasticity in spinal pain-processing circuits in rodents. rNCI are an emerging technology that uses biophysical signals recorded from one area of the CNS to trigger stimulation in another. In this project, we aim to use rNCI to selectively weaken overactive pain-related neurons by driving neural plasticity.

  • Neural-computer interfaces
  • Electrophysiology
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Motor rehabilitation
  • Neural plasticity
In our other primary line of research, we study the relationship between volitional motor control and pain perception in humans. This work is motivated by the observations that (a) injuries to the CNS frequently result both in motor deficits and changes in pain perception, and that (b) many interventions designed to target motor deficits also impact pain perception (and vice versa). Here, we use mechatronic devices, electromyography, non-invasive neurostimulation, and neuropharmacology to understand the sensorimotor dynamic in the context of brainstem-spinal neuromodulation.

  • Neuropharmacology
  • Electrophysiology
  • Robotics/mechatronics
  • Motor rehabilitation
  • Sensorimotor integration
  • Conditioned pain modulation