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The Neuro Team

Barbara E. Jones, PhD, Coordinator

Barbara Jones
Dr. Barbara Jones seeks to understand how the brain generates states of waking and sleep. She studies the chemical neurotransmitters, anatomical projections and physiology of the specific neurons that stimulate and maintain a waking state, as well as those neurons that reciprocally arrest waking and promote sleep. In this process, different neural systems interact to generate three distinct states: waking, slow wave sleep (SWS) and paradoxical sleep (PS, or rapid eye movement sleep, REM, when dreaming occurs). To study these neural sytems, she uses immunohistochemical and neuroanatomical techniques combined with neurophysiological recording. She is examining the way that cholinergic neurons in the brain stem and basal forebrain stimulate cortical activation with theta and gamma electroencephalographic (EEG) activity during waking and PS and participate in processes of attention and memory. Due in part to loss of cholinergic neurons, these processes are compromised in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease.

Dr. Jones has also identified particular neurons containing GABA that are active when the EEG is characterized by slow, delta EEG activity and might be important for attenuating cortical activation and stimulating SWS. These different neuronal systems are in turn affected by other neurotransmitters, including significantly noradrenaline that appears to excite wake-active neurons and to inhibit sleep-active neurons, thus maintaining a waking state. Disruption of these systems’ neurotransmitters or receptors can result in sleep disorders such as insomnia and narcolepsy. Indeed, the peptide orexin, which is contained in neurons in the hypothalamus, has been found to be essential for the maintenance of waking, since in its absence, narcolepsy with cataplexy occurs in humans and animals. Understanding the way in which orexin neurons discharge and influence other systems in the brain to maintain waking is another major aim of Dr. Jones' research program.

See Publications

E-mail: Barbara E. Jones

Page last updated: Nov. 30, 2010 at 10:49 AM