Dr. Cash’s laboratory focuses on trying to understand normal and abnormal oscillations in the human brain. Specifically, he and his team are interested in understanding the mechanisms which underlie rhythmic activity in sleep, cognition and epilepsy. They use both non-invasive and invasive methods to study these phenomena and hope to use these results to improve diagnostic and therapeutic efforts to cure neurological disease.
With help from the Rappaport Family Fund, one of their most exciting research programs focuses on using specialized microelectrodes (shown here) to record from the human cortex and understand how seizures start, spread and stop. About 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy – as many as 1/3 of these patients have seizures which can not be controlled with medications alone. Using these microelectrodes, Dr. Cash and his colleagues have recorded seizure activity in patients undergoing surgery for poorly controlled epilepsy. These studies offer a unique view of the physiology of seizures at a level of detail which has never been achieved in humans before. Early results are promising and suggest new ways to understand how seizures start and spread. Dr. Cash and his team hope to quickly expand on this new understanding and build new systems for detecting, predicting and controlling seizures.
Current research in the lab is, broadly speaking, dedicated to trying to understand normal and abnormal brain activity, particularly oscillations, using multi-modal and multi-scalar approaches. Specifically, we are combining novel microelectrode approaches with non-invasive techniques such as electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography to record directly from both human and animal cortex and subcortical structures. One part of the lab studies the neurophysiology of epilepsy; trying to understand how seizures start and stop and how they might be predicted and terminated. These questions overlap with investigations into the mechanisms of sleep, normal language, auditory, and other cognitive processing.
All of these projects are built on a foundation of combined microelectrode, macroelectrode and non-invasive recording techniques that span information from the level of single action potentials to aggregate activity of millions of neurons. Intensive signal processing and computational techniques are employed to analyze these data sets. Collaborative activities involving neural modeling are aimed at relating these multi-scalar data. Ultimately, all of these projects aim toward the creation of both invasive and non-invasive mechanisms for restoring damaged neuronal function.