Neuroscience Across the Curriculum
September 30, 2015
Last week, Douglas Coulter, PhD, a Trinity alumnus, spoke about his research on epilepsy using epiflourescence imaging to monitor changes in voltage in areas of the brain. Dr. Coulter also spoke of the benefits of a Trinity degree, stressed the importance of taking a range of classes and interests, and always following your interests. Epilepsy is a blanket term given to the neurological disorder in which an individual has a seizure. During a seizure, the normal asynchronous firing of a neuron is interrupted with a period of abnormal, excessive, or synchronous firing of neurons. The resulting symptoms can range from uncontrollable jerking movements to a period of time in which an individual cannot respond to stimuli. The bulk of Dr. Coulter’s research focuses upon the role of the dentate gyrus of the hippocampus or the amino acid neurotransmitter glutamate. Currently, the cause of epilepsy is unknown, so Dr. Coulter uses a mouse model of epilepsy and stains certain neurons and watches them fire to search for abnormal levels of neuronal firing or neurons firing in large accordance with one another. Presently, the direct mechanism of epilepsy is unknown; however Dr. Coulter has discovered a connection between decreased inhibition of GABAergic neurons within the dentate gyrus.