Learning, neural plasticity, pain, and the recovery of function after neural injury.
Dr. Grau’s research has focused on a number of topics, including learning, pain modulation, and the recovery of function after spinal cord injury. One line of work has examined whether lower level neural systems within the spinal cord can learn. His work has provided evidence that neurons within the spinal cord are sensitive to both temporal and behavioral relations. Interestingly, this learning appears to involve many of the same neurochemical systems that mediate learning and memory within the brain. More recently, his laboratory has been exploring the implications of these studies for the recovery of function after neural injury. Current research has shown that pain input after injury can increase tissue loss, undermine the recovery of function, and foster the development of chronic pain. Funded by both the Neilsen Foundation and NIH, his laboratory is seeking new treatments to promote recovery and treat pain after injury.
2014-2017: How and when does peripheral input affect recovery after SCI? Neilsen Foundation, $553,435.
2016-2018: Effect of inflammation on recovery and pain after spinal cord injury. NINDS, $402,205.
Grau, J. W. (2014). Learning from the spinal cord: How the study of spinal cord plasticity informs our view of learning. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 108, 155-171.
Garraway, S. M., Woller, S. A., Huie, J. R., Hartman, J. J., Hook, M. A., Miranda, R. C., Huang, Y.-J., Ferguson, A. R., & Grau, J. W. (2014). Peripheral noxious stimulation reduces withdrawal threshold to mechanical stimuli after spinal cord injury: Role of tumor necrosis factor alpha and apoptosis. Pain, 155, 2344-2359.
Lee, K. H., Huang, Y.-J., & Grau, J. W. (2016). Learning about time within the spinal cord II: Evidence that temporal regularity is encoded by a spinal oscillator. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 10:14. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00014
Huang, Y.-J., Lee, K. H., Murphy, L., Garraway, S. M., & Grau, J. W. (2016). Acute spinal cord injury (SCI) transforms how GABA affects nociceptive sensitization. Experimental Neurology, 285, 82-95.
Turtle, J. D., Strain, M. M., Aceves, M., Huang, Y.-J., Reynolds, J. A., Hook, M. A., & Grau, J. W. (2017). Pain input impairs recovery after spinal cord injury: Treatment with lidocaine. Journal of Neurotrauma, 34, 1200-1208.
Grau, J. W., Huang, Y.-J., Turtle, J. D., Strain, M. M., Miranda, R. M., Garraway, S. M., & Hook, M. A. (2017). When pain hurts: Nociceptive stimulation induces a state of maladaptive plasticity and impairs recovery after spinal cord injury. Journal of Neurotrauma, 34, 1873-1890.
Current Graduate Students:
Gizelle Fauss, Jacob Davis