Research Projects

The essential goal of our neuroscience research is to determine the mechanisms, architectures and dynamics of working memory and learning. The work incorporates brain mapping, imaging, electrophysiological recording and computational/mathematical modeling of working memory networks. The focus of our research is to determine (a) how working memory networks maintain complex multimodal information and how such information and memories are formed and activated in learning; and (b) how they operate in higher cognitive processes.

Neuropathology research focuses on epilepsy research – particularly neurophysiological research to determine the mechanisms of seizures and to optimize the effect of treating epilepsy with auditory stimulation (specifically music). We conduct computational research to develop mathematical models of working memory and determine mechanisms by which those networks are affected to generate neuropathologies, and methods of stimulating those networks with external stimuli to act as a noninvasive nonpharmacological form of treatment. We seek to determine the specific parameters, conditions and boundaries under which such treatment is optimized and efficacious.

Specific research includes:

Epilepsy

Electrocorticography
Our research involves determining the dynamics and mechanisms of cortical networks representing working memory and cross-modal association. The research also seeks to determine the patterns of epileptiform activity and the patterns of auditory stimulation evoked in the brain by specific types of external stimulation (e.g., music) and its effect in reducing or eliminating neuropathological brain activity.

Neural Mechanisms of Mental Calculation
Our research involves determining the mechanisms and networks associated with learning different mathematical concepts using spatial-temporal methods vs. standard language-associated representations, and the difference in efficacy achieved through the different methods.

Photosensitive Epilepsy
Research involves determining (a) the dynamics and patterns of reflex epilepsy and the patterns of brain activity produced from auditory stimulation from specific music; and (b) the causal nature for a therapeutic effect of the music stimulation in preventing the neuropathology and the mechanism by which it does so.

Rolandic Epilepsy
Our research involves determining the brain patterns involved in rolandic epilepsy – the most common syndrome of pediatric epilepsy. The research records EEG for 12 continuous hours (during sleep) of patients with rolandic epilepsy and determines the patterns of activity evoked from exposure to a range of external auditory stimuli (music) to determine the patterns the stimuli evoke and how they may counteract the pathological activity.

Seizure Reduction in Neurologically-Handicapped Patients
Clinical research involves determining that passive exposure to specifically patterned presentations of music produces a significant reduction in seizure frequency in individuals with a wide range of epilepsy and seizure types.

Working Memory

Computational Modeling of Working Memory and Learning
Our research involves the development of biologically realistic neural network models to determine the range of possible mechanisms engaged in cognitive function – particularly how working memory networks are maintained active and their dynamics in learning, association and generation of sequenced behaviors. These networks are analyzed in terms of their dynamics and patterns generated so that they may be compared against real cortical activity determining how working memory and learning takes place. These networks form the basis for analysis in terms of perturbations or derangements as the basis for the production of neuropathologies and how specific types of interventions (e.g., patterned stimulation of networks) may lead to effective therapies.

Crossmodal Association and Crossmodal Decision-Making
Neurophysiological research (EEG recording from human subjects) and computational modeling seeks to determine the mechanisms and dynamics of how stimuli of different modalities are combined in working memory and cognition.

Decision-Making in Primary Somatosensory Cortex
Our neurophysiological studies demonstrate the fundamental structure of working memory networks. Work showing that primary sensory cortices, previously thought to participate only in perception, actually participate in working memory networks engage in higher cognitive function such as decision making.