Professor and Scientist VII National Brain Research Centre, Manesar (Haryana), India
Biography: Dr Neeraj Jain is Professor and Senior Scientist at National Brain Research Centre, Manesar, Gurgaon. He obtained his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Panjab University, Chandigarh, and Ph.D. from IARI, New Delhi. He worked with Prof. Jon Kaas at Vanderbilt University for his post-doctoral Research work, where he continued as Research Assistant Professor. While at Vanderbilt he was awarded Young Scientist Award by John F Kennedy Center for his work on the effects of spinal cord injuries on the brain.
Prof. Jain was awarded the prestigious International Senior Research Fellowship by the Wellcome Trust, UK, to set up his laboratory and continue his work in India. His research interests include organization and information processing in the sensorimotor systems, and brain plasticity following spinal cord injury. He uses many different model systems including non-human primates, rats, mice and humans, and a variety of experimental approaches that include electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, multi-photon imaging and fMRI. Prof Jain is also keenly interested in improving science education at the school level.
Title: 'Spinal cord injuries and brain plasticity'
Deafferentations due to spinal cord injuries in adult primates lead to plasticity at multiple levels along the somatosensory neuraxis. Such injuries results in intact face inputs expanding into the deafferented regions of the cuneate nucleus of the brain stem, ventroposterior lateral nucleus (VPL) of the thalamus, and primary and secondary somatosensory areas of the cortex. These plastic changes are mediated by key changes in the brain stem nuclei. Expansion of the face representation into the cuneate nucleus, due to sprouting from the adjacent spinal trigeminal nucleus cascades upstream into the primary somatosensory cortex (area 3b). Interestingly, in the cuneate nucleus and VPL, the intact arm and occiput – neck – shoulder inputs also expand in the deafferented hand region, which is not seen in area 3b. Expression of these other representations is likely suppressed in VPL as thalamocortical inputs ascend to area 3b.