About our work

The Plasticity, Monoamines, and Recovery of Function Laboratory (PMRF Lab), directed by Prof. Jacob McPherson, studies patterns of synaptic communication within sensorimotor neural networks and how these networks learn to modify their function(s) when new patterns are introduced or existing patterns are altered.

Much of our work derives from the observation that injuries to the central nervous system frequently result both in movement impairments and changes in pain perception. Yet, while many therapies intended to target movement impairments also impact pain perception (and vice versa), these interventions are developed and evaluated primarily through the prism of movement or pain alone.

Our work is predicated on the notion that optimal therapies for restoring function after neurological injury must be grounded in a neuromechanistic understanding of the causes of impairment, which requires an integrative view of nervous system function and an interdisciplinary approach to research. As a result, our work is translational in nature, spanning basic science, pre-clinical (animal), and clinical (human-subjects) neurophysiology, neural engineering, and neurological rehabilitation research. 

The ultimate goal of our work is to reduce maladaptive consequences of altered sensorimotor communication (e.g., neuropathic pain, movement impairments) after CNS injury towards development of therapies that offer multi-modal rehabilitation. 

We are particularly interested in strategies that facilitate and direct the intrinsic ability of the central nervous system to reorganize and repair, including strategies designed to enhance the therapeutic benefits of physical rehabilitation. Specific interests and areas of expertise include:

  • Pathologies: stroke, spinal cord injury.
  • Impairments: neural control of movement, neuropathic pain.
  • Physiology: spinal physiology, sensorimotor integration, neural plasticity, endogenous brainstem neuromodulation.
  • Techniques: physical rehabilitation, electrophysiology (animal and human), neuropharmacology, neural-computer interfaces, biophysical signal processing (neural, EMG, movement), robotics, and magnetic resonance imaging.