Virginia Commonwealth University

Sensorimotor Plasticity Research Center

Eye

This complex of laboratories was established to provide research at various stages ranging from basic animal experiments to application to human studies.

Electroneurophysiology laboratory
(100 square feet)

This lab features a specialized surgical table designed to hold anesthetized animals in a stereotaxic frame during acute experiments for in vivo stimulation of neurons at the nucleus or nerve and measuring the contractile characteristics of spinal-nerve-innervated muscles such as the soleus or triceps muscles or cranial-nerve-innervated muscles such as tongue or extraocular muscles. The 400-pound granite tabletop can be “floated” to minimize the effect of floor vibration when measuring the forces of single motor units. Surgical lighting is available to optimize visualization. Physiologic data from strain gauge and differential amplifiers table is converted to digital media and recorded using “PowerLab” software.

Immunohistology laboratory
(500 square feet plus storage space)

In the histology laboratory, muscle, bone or connective tissue are collected from animals and stored in a -70-degree freezer. Tissue may be sectioned using the cryotome for immunohistological analysis or dehydrated for the extraction of proteins such as myosin-heavy chains for processing with gel electrophoresis to determine the exact proportions of muscle-fiber types. The laboratory is outfitted with an exhaust hood, autoclave, cabinets, refrigerator, centrifuges, freezers and wet lab counters and sinks.

Computer stations
(300 square feet)

The gels and cross sections are scanned and analyzed by computer programs designed to measure diameters, areas or densities before any quantitative data is entered into the database.

Human sensorimotor development laboratory
Dr. Dusing, Dr. Pidcoe and Dr. Shall collaborate on a study of children with and without hearing deficits. We are specifically testing the vestibular system using vestibular electromyogenic potentials (VEMP). The VEMP computer is portable and can be transported to the subjects’ homes. We can test developmental milestones using pediatric motor skill evaluation tools (such as the Movement ABC) in Dr. Dusing’s motor development lab. Dr. Peter Pidcoe’s lab is outfitted with a motion analysis system for evaluation of eye movements during balancing activities and development of posture and balance strategies.

Yoga as part of integrative Medicine Laboratory
We teach restorative yoga postures and breathing exercises during the treatment of patients with lung cancer. Outcome measures include spirometry and the FACT-L which measures the health related quality of life with particular emphasis on the lung.