Neuroscience Laboratory of Paul García, MD, PhD
Research in my laboratory focuses on the neurophysiological mechanisms that underlie inhibitory brain circuits. Enhancement of inhibitory pathways of the brain naturally lead to the familiar quiescent states of sleep and anesthesia. However, modulation of inhibitory networks in the brain also has profound implications on attention, memory, pain, and anxiety. Quiescent activity that resembles sleep or the anesthetized state is not unique to complex organisms like mammals and birds but has been observed in fruit flies, nematodes, and yeast; emphasizing how important these inhibitory circuits are to brain function. An organism’s response to injury also influences the inhibitory signaling pathways in the brain.
As both a practicing anesthesiologist and a scientist, I became interested in preserving neuronal function in the perioperative period, the common links between natural sleep and anesthesia, and the restoration of functional circuitry after manipulation of inhibitory networks through drugs that sedate or make one unconscious. Most of my work focuses on the pharmacologic manipulation of mammalian brain circuits which use the most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, gamma-aminobutyric acid, GABA as their chief signaling molecule.