Glutamate, Plasticity, and the Secret Life of Motor Neurons

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Spinal motor neurons are the final common pathway of voluntary nervous system output, transforming sensory inputs and our intentions into actions. Understanding how motor neurons integrate information and modulate their output to drive motor performance is a fundamental challenge in neuroscience. It has implications for rehabilitation, advanced prosthetics, brain-machine interfaces, and other biologically-inspired systems. This talk highlights recent work that is revealing the secret physiology of motor neurons, fundamentally changing our understanding of the neurons we thought we knew best

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Melissa A. Harrington is Professor of Biology and Interim Associate Vice President for Research at Delaware State University, the Director of Delaware’s Center for Neuroscience Research—an NIH-funded COBRE. More than 45 undergraduates, 8 graduate students, and three post-doctoral scholars have worked in her lab, and most have been co-authors on her numerous research publications. With a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from Purdue and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford’s School of Medicine, Harrington had post-docs at Stanford and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School before joining the faculty at Morehouse College and then moving to Delaware State University.