Can the neurons of a shellfish shed light on epilepsy and depression?
Parkinson’s disease. Epilepsy. Depression. Drug addiction. Every one of these disorders afflicting millions of people across the globe traces its roots to what’s happening in the neurons in our brains and at the cell-to-cell junctions called synapses.
A better understanding of the basic biophysical processes at work on the neural level is crucial to finding cures for these complex diseases. That’s why the work of Farzan Nadim is so important.
Professor of neurobiology in NJIT’s College of Science and Liberal Arts, Dr. Nadim is investigating what governs neural processing across all animal and human nervous systems. Combining computational, analytical and experimental techniques, his research studies the network of nerve cells in the central nervous system of lobsters and crabs, and seeks to understand how the cells generate the patterned electrical activity that triggers the animals’ stomach muscles during grinding, chewing, digesting and filtering food. Shedding light on how neurons generate these rhythmic activities and why the cells sometime misfire and disrupt the normal oscillating pattern will help us understand, on a cellular and network level, more complex neural circuits like the human brain.