Area of Study / Keywords
spinal cord injury cerebral palsy ALS spasticity motoneuron and sensory physiology brain and spinal cord circuitry
As a basic
science researcher, I examine the role of spinal (lower) motoneurons and the
control of sensory inputs in the development of spasticity and motor
dysfunction following spinal cord injury and cerebral palsy. I also examine the
progression of spinal motoneuron behaviour in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
and other motoneuron diseases to determine factors that may contribute to motor
compensation and cell death. I use a variety of techniques such as high-density
surface EMG to examine single motor unit (motoneuron) firing behaviour,
transcranial and peripheral nerve stimulation to examine brain and spinal cord
circuits and I collaborate in parallel animal and neuronal modelling
experiments to bridge my human work. Currently my work is funded by CIHR, NIH
and WCHRI (see https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/?term=Gorassini+M for a list of my published work). I
teach a graduate course on neuroplasticity, covering topics such as changes in
brain and spinal cord circuits following spinal cord injury, stroke and
neuropathic pain. I am the Chair of the Research Awards Committee in the
Faculty of Medicine. I have ongoing research collaborations with Drs. Chester
Ho, John Andersen, Lindsay Hubenig and Vivian Mushahwar in the Division of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
The main goal of our research is to understand the neuronal mechanisms that mediate the development of spasticity and motor dysfunction after spinal cord injury and cerebral palsy.
We examine how neurons and neuronal circuits in an injured nervous system adapt to produce the uncontrolled and unwanted muscle contractions that affect the majority of patients with spinal cord injury, cerebral palsy and ALS. One of the neurons that we study is the motoneuron that excites the muscles of the limbs to produce movement. Previously, we have shown that after spinal cord injury, the excessive and uncontrolled activity of motoneurons during muscle spasms is mediated, in large part, by the activation of voltage dependent persistent inward currents (PICs) in the human motoneuron. We study why motoneurons recover PICs and self sustained activity after chronic spinal cord injury, if similar mechanisms exist in cerebral palsy and why motoneurons die in ALS. We also examine the effects of intensive motor training in adults with spinal cord injuries and in babies with stroke.
We aim to develop new pharmacological and rehabilitative therapies to both control spasticity after trauma to the central nervous system and improve residual motor movements.
I teach a graduate course on Neuroplasticity and supervise Neuroscience undergraduate students in lab rotation courses.
NEURO 520 Neuroplasticity
*3 (fi 6) (second term 3-0-0)
An advanced course for undergraduate and graduate students in Neuroscience that covers the cellular and systems level changes in sensorimotor and pain pathways in response to motor training and/or trauma to the nervous system. A background on experimental techniques and mechanisms of neuronal plasticity from key studies in cortical, spinal and dorsal horn systems will be provided. Students are expected to present on current topics in the field of motor and pain neuroplasticity.
An advanced course for graduate students in Neuroscience that covers the cellular and systems level changes in sensorimotor and pain pathways in response to motor training and/or trauma to the nervous system. A background on experimental techniques and mechanisms of neuronal plasticity from key studies in cortical, spinal and dorsal horn systems will be provided. Students are expected to write and present on current topics in the field of motor and pain neuroplasticity. Students should have a basic background in neurophysiology. Prerequisites: PMCOL 371 and PHYSL 372 or equivalents or consent of instructor. Note: Credit will be granted for only one of BME 520 or NEURO 520.
Development of Intrinsic Motoneuron Properties in Humans
International Motoneuron Society Conference. 2022 June;
K. Metz, I. ConchaMatos, K. Hari, O. Bseis, B. Afsharipour, S. Lin, Y. Li, R. Singla, K Fenrich, DJ. Bennett, MA. Gorassini
BioRxiv. 2022 May; 10.1101/2022.03.28.486118
Hurd C., Livingstone D., Brunton K., Smith A., Gorassini M., Watt M.J., Andersen J., Kirton A., Yang J.F.
NEUROREHABILITATION AND NEURAL REPAIR. 2022 April; 36 (6):360-370 10.1177/15459683221090931
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