The Neuroscience Anthology project is a part of the INI Internship program. In addition to shadowing Dr. Vokshoor in clinic and in surgery, students in the internship program pick a neuroscience topic and complete an outside research project, giving students a chance to further investigate an area of neuroscience that particularly interests them. Their reports are compiled here to create a working, growing neuroscience curriculum.

Below you can explore what some of our interns have been researching:

Gangliosides and Neurological Development

By Melissa Larcher

Recent developments in neuroscience have led to the discovery that glycolipid structures promote platelet activation and neuroinflammation, therefore having an imperative role neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease. Due to these recent developments new studies have shown that important developmental structures within the brain can also be a vital contributor towards finding preventative cures towards degenerative neural diseases.

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Pain, Spinothalamic Pathways and Pain Management

By Emmanuela P François

The International Association for the Study of Pain defined pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage” (Lipton, 1991) and Karpurkar et al., defined it as “an unpleasant emotional experience usually initiated by a noxious stimulus, mediated over a specialized neural network to cortical and subcortical centers where it is interpreted as such” (Kapurkar 2015). These noxious stimuli activate nociceptors, the free nerve endings found in muscles, joints, bones, viscera and skin that detect signals from damaged tissue and indirectly respond to chemicals such as bradykinin, ATP and K+ released from the damaged tissue (Snell, 2010).

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NTD and TCS: Malformations of the Spinal Cord in Children and Adults

By Richard Ma

One of the most common and life-threatening birth defects are known as neural tube defects (NTDs). These defects are categorized by an opening in the spinal cord or brain during development. Additionally, a less common spinal cord disorder also occurs in adults called adult tethered cord syndrome. This may go undiagnosed until adulthood when pain, sensory, and motor problems occur in a patient’s back.

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Phantom Limb Pain Mechanisms

By Symone Lowery-Hughes

“...Those obdurate and sometimes tormenting ghosts of arms and legs lost years or decades before but not forgotten by the brain.”-V.S. Ramachandran

Phantom sensations are sensory perceptions of a missing limb. Phantom limb pain is a neuropathic pain in the amputated limb and mostly reported in limb amputees. Phantom limb pain can be broadly categorized by supraspinal, spinal and peripheral mechanisms [1]. Supraspinal mechanisms include somatosensory cortical reorganization of body image. Spinal reorganization in the dorsal horn occurs after interruption of a peripheral nerve. Peripherally, damaged axonal nerves initiate inflammation and regenerative sprouting causing increased ectopic afferent input. Central and Peripheral mechanisms are thought to be contributing to phantom limb pain for which aggressive pain management is required. The interplay of multiple mechanisms renders phantom limb pain challenging to treat.

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Spine Trauma & Depression: The Intersection of Physiology & Mental Health

By Rawad Rayes

When considering the problems that arise after traumatic spinal cord injuries (SCI), the most commonly addressed issues are numbness and tingling in the extremities, focal weakness, or paralysis, but one of the most persistent and difficult to treat co-morbidities is long term clinical depression. Though there are several possible etiologies for clinical depression in SCI patients, some of the most significant examples include chronic pain syndromes (e.g. Fibromyalgia), and various dysfunctions of the autonomic nervous system which may be referred to under the broader term of dysautonomia. As disparate as these examples may seem at first glance, they each play a role in decreasing an SCI patient’s quality of life, and therefore present a challenge for physicians and researchers to address.

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