Oscillopathies: From Squid Axons to Infant Apneas


Oscillopathies: From Squid Axons to Infant Apneas
Thursday, December 6, 2018
3:30PM – 5PM
POB 6.304

David Paydarfar, MD

Abnormal neural oscillations are implicated in certain disease states, for example repetitive firing of injured axons evoking painful paresthesia, and rhythmic discharges of cortical neurons in patients with epilepsy. In other clinical conditions, the pathological state manifests as a vulnerability of an oscillator to switch off, for example prolonged pauses in automatic breathing commonly observed in preterm infants. I will present theory and experimental observations on the initiation and termination of neural rhythms at the cellular, tissue and organism levels. The findings suggest how small appropriately tuned noisy inputs could silence a neural oscillator or, conversely, could promote rhythmic activity. Noise-sensitive neurons have intrinsic properties that yield interesting physiological properties on the edge of a bifurcation, affording remarkable adaptive capacities to circuits that require rapid and efficient on-off switching; between multiple modes of activity (e.g., quiescence, repetitive firing, bursting) and between multiple functions (e.g., breathing, swallowing, coughing, and vocalization). I will illustrate the therapeutic potential of stochastic stimulation for promoting stability of breathing and preventing central apnea in preterm infants.

David Paydarfar is Professor and inaugural Chair of the Department of Neurology at the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. He previously served as Professor and Executive Vice Chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and as Associate Faculty of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Paydarfar received his B.S. in Physics (summa cum laude) from Duke University and M.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and completed his residency training in neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. He is a Fellow of the American Neurological Association and an Investigator of the Clayton Foundation for Research.

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