University of Calgary

Markin researcher helps develop new model to see how brain controls movement

UToday HomeMarch 11, 2013

Jeff Grab completed a Markin Undergraduate Student Research Project in Health and Wellness while working in Cam Teskey’s lab. Photo by Riley BrandtJeff Grab completed a Markin Undergraduate Student Research Project in Health and Wellness while working in Cam Teskey’s lab. Photo by Riley BrandtBack in high school, when Jeff Grab would read books on brain mapping for fun, he had no idea that just a couple of years later he’d help develop new mapping techniques in a leading neural plasticity lab.

Grab, a second-year neuroscience student, completed a Markin Undergraduate Student Research Project (USRP) in Health and Wellness. Grab worked in Cam Teskey’s lab, which examines and measures changes in neural pathways and synapses in the brain.

Teskey, a professor in cell biology and anatomy and psychology as well as member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute, uses animal models to study epilepsy and seizures, stroke recovery and the cellular basis of learning and memory.

Grab met Teskey and toured the lab when he arrived from Red Deer to attend the University of Calgary.

“Before I even knew about Dr. Teskey, I had read brain mapping books and lo and behold I find a brain mapping neuroscientist,” says Grab. “I was very excited to get into the field that I wanted to be in.”

Grab helped researchers in the lab use intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) to map the cortex. Researchers use electrodes to activate certain neurons in animal models and then observe the resulting movements to produce an illustration of what each point of stimulation would do.

This is one of the first times researchers used mice models instead of rats. “Mice are becoming much more popular research tools because you can do genetic manipulations on them more easily then on rats,” says Teskey. “We felt it was important and time to do the mapping in mice.”

Grab helped analyze and compare the brain maps of rats and mice. “It was great, he is a terrific student,” says Teskey. “He was really enthusiastic and keen and he learned the technology very quickly in order to do the mapping.”

Grab, meanwhile, says the real-life experience working on brain mapping in Teskey’s lab was everything he thought it could be back when he was just looking at pictures of brain mapping in books. “It was awesome. I could not describe it any more than that word.”

Grab will present his work, Complex forelimb movements and motor map topography in mice derived with long-duration intracortical microstimulation, on Monday, April 1 at 2:30 p.m. in HS 263.

Learn more about USRP.

 

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