Memory dysfunction represents one of the most common cognitive complaints in patients with epilepsy, and significantly impairs quality of life. Our work aims to (1) better characterize memory function in the context of everyday life, and (2) remediate memory impairment, through rigorous exploration of the mechanisms of memory, its dysfunction, and potential therapeutic techniques. We use a variety of tools, including cognitive testing, invasive and scalp EEG, and neurostimulation. We strive to translate the insights gained from cognitive neuroscience and basic neuroscience into clinically meaningful applications, to benefit not only patients with epilepsy as well as others who suffer from memory impairment. Our lab’s main research goals are:
1. To characterize the diverse repertoire of memory functions (and their failures) in epilepsy patients in everyday life. We seek to develop cognitive tasks which represent the range of computations that occur (and fail) in everyday life, which may not be captured in conventional neuropsychological batteries. We are interested in characterizing the contribution of non-dominant temporal lobe to memory function. We are also developing methods of testing memory performance over more behaviorally meaningful timescales (hours and days), compared to those typically utilized in clinical and research settings (seconds to minutes).
2. To determine the neurophysiology involved in memory processing and its disruption in epilepsy patients. A deep mechanistic understanding of how and when memory fails in epilepsy patients is foundational to rationally-guided therapeutic interventions. We utilize scalp and intracranial EEG to reveal the fine-grained spatiotemporal dynamics of how hippocampus and neocortex support encoding and consolidation, during waking and sleep. We are particularly interested in the role that physiological brain rhythms play in these functions, and how their disruption (via pathological interictal epileptiform discharges and seizures) may explain forgetting in epilepsy patients. We have also used lesion-based approaches to understand the functional neuroanatomy of the brain, particularly the contribution of mesial temporal lobe structures.
3. To develop methods of neuromodulation to restore neural rhythms supporting memory function. We are exploring a variety of techniques, including transcranial electrical stimulation (alternating and direct current), acoustic stimulation, direct electrical stimulation, and transcranial magnetic stimulation, to modulate rhythms important to memory function. Characterizing the mechanistic effects of these modalities on physiological rhythms (such as sleep spindles and slow waves) and pathological rhythms (such as seizures and interictal discharges) is foundational toward development of these tools.
Our lab works in close collaboration with a dynamic group of basic scientists, cognitive neuroscientists, biomedical engineers, data scientists, neuropsychologists, and physicians. Our intellectual home is within the NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center and the NYU ECoG Group. We belong of the vibrant community of NYU School of Medicine, NYU Neuroscience Institute, NYU Center for Neural Science, and NYU Center for Data Science.
We owe a debt of gratitude to our patients, who generously participate in our research, as well as our funders. If you are interested in supporting our work, please contact us.
NIH NIMH R01
Doris Duke Foundation
Feldstein Medical Foundation
American Epilepsy Society
Leon Levy Foundation
American Brain Foundation
NYU Clinical Translational Science Initiative
NYU Finding a Cure Against Epilepsy and Seizures (FACES)
NYU Program Project Development Grant Initiative