“The program is truly multidisciplinary, so you are exposed to many different aspects of neuroscience, both through courses and the seminar series.”
I am most interested in the study of complex and uniquely human phenomenon such as the practice of meditation, and in understanding how human beings experience and modulate interoceptive body states linked to emotion such as the heartbeat and breath. While here at Iowa I have also had the opportunity to study the cellular and morphological effects of diseases such as Epilepsy and Alzheimer's.
Meditation: for my thesis work I am investigating the effects of the long term practice of meditation on awareness and regulation of internal body states. These studies have involved combining a variety of methods including psychophysiology, psychopharmacology and functional neuroimaging.
Interoception: Peripheral and central mechanisms underlying interoceptive awareness.
Epilepsy and Alzheimer's disease: I recently published a case study with Dr. Gary Van Hoesen (now retired) and Dr. Steven Moore. We described a patient with epilepsy symptoms and a brain lesion in the medial temporal lobe nearly identical to a famous epilepsy patient known as patient Z. This patient served as the foundation of British neurologist Hughlings Jackson's argument that temporal lobe pathology led to epilepsy, despite the fact that the pathological basis of this patient's brain lesion was uncertain. Before dying our patient (we call him patient A) had donated his brain to the University of Iowa Deeded Body Program, affording us the opportunity to characterize his lesion and Alzheimer's disease with histologic stains such as Nissl, Thioflavin S, H & E, and a Nissl-silver double stain using the modified Gallyas technique.