Experimental Neurophysiology

Experimental Neurophysiology group

Experimental Neurophysiology


Principal investigator: Dr. Juan de los Reyes Aguilar Lepe

E-mail: jdaguilar@sescam.jccm.es



The main objective of our work is to study the physiology of the somatosensory system under normal conditions and after spinal cord injury. The somatosensory system is a complex system in charge of processing different sensory modalities (such as touch, proprioception, pain and temperature) that are received from the body surface and/or internal organs. Owing to a high degree of its spatial distribution and temporal precision, the system allows for the most adequate information selection depending on different behavioral states. However, following a spinal cord lesion a great deal of these sensory inputs is lost to the supraspinal centers (i.e. brainstem, thalamus, and the cerebral cortex) as they cease to receive sensory information originating from the regions below the lesion.  Furthermore, the loss of sensory input is the origin of anatomical and physiological changes that can trigger pathologies like neuropathic pain or phantom limb.



We use electrophysiological recordings to study the immediate efects of spinal cord injury on intact cortical and thalamic regions, as well as on regions affected by the injury. Our recently published work demonstrates that a spinal cord lesion can cause immediate physiological changes which, when observed at the cortical level, may explain long-term processes that relate to a pathological neuronal activity. Accordingly, we are presently studying the changes that the thalamo-cortico-thalamic circuitry undergoes immediately after a spinal cord lesion. Better understanding of the mechanisms underlying physiological reorganization at the thalamo-cortical level is essential in designing future therapies for regeneration and restoration of spinal cord connections.





Selected publications



- Alonso-Calviño E, Martínez-Camero I, Fernández-López F, Humanes-Valera D, Foffani G, Aguilar J. Increased responses in the somatosensory thalamus immediately after spinal cord injury. Neurobiology of Disease. 2016; 87:39-49. doi:10.1016/j.nbd.2015.12.003.  



- Valero M, Cid E, Averkin RG, Aguilar J, Sanchez-Aguilera A, Viney TJ, Gomez-Dominguez D, Bellistri E, de la Prida LM. Determinants of different deep and superficial CA1 pyramidal cell dynamics during sharp-wave ripples. Nat Neurosci. 2015; 18(9):1281-90. doi: 10.1038/nn.4074.



- Humanes-Valera D, Foffani G, Aguilar J.  Increased cortical responses to forepaw stimuli immediately after peripheral deafferentation of hindpaw inputs. Sci Rep. 2014; 4:7278. doi: 10.1038/srep07278.



- Humanes-Valera D, Aguilar J, Foffani G. Reorganization of the intact somatosensory cortex immediately after spinal cord injury. PLoS One. 2013;8(7):e69655. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069655.



- Aguilar J, Humanes-Valera D, Alonso-Calviño E, Yagüe JG, Moxon K, Oliviero A, Foffani G. Spinal cord injury immediately changes the state of the brain. Journal of Neuroscience. 2010; 30:7528-7537.







Juan de los Reyes Aguilar Lepe: Lab chief; Ph.D. in Neuroscience



Elena Alonso Calviño: Lab manager, BSc. in Environmental Sciences



Elena Fernández López: Lab technician, BSc. in Environmental Sciences



The personnel is shared at 50% with Dr. Guglielmo Foffani





Ongoing projects



- Immediate physiological effects of spinal cord injury in the somatosensory thalamus: importance of timing and rhythm alterations.

PI: JR Aguilar Lepe. Funded by the Ministry of Economy and Competiveness (Ref: SAF2012-40109; 2013-2016).



- Tracking the evolution of the nervous system injuries. Reproducible and noninvasive recording by means of permanent cranial electrodes.

PIs: JR Aguilar Lepe and José Abad Rodríguez. Funded by the Insurance company Linea Directa (2015-2016).





Research lines



- Physiology of the somatosensory cortex under control and conditions posterior to a spinal cord injury.



- Physiology of the somatosensory thalamus under control and conditions posterior to a spinal cord injury.