Akiva Cohen

Traumatic Brain Injury: It’s all about Balance

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Traumatic brain injury (TBI) produces a significant healthcare burden in the United States, with an estimated 3.2 million survivors currently living with long-term disabilities.  Furthermore, TBI is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States, with an estimated 1.7 million new cases sustained annually.  While alternatively referred to as mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), there is nothing mild about concussion for many individuals. Studies show that up to 15-20 percent of concussion patients suffer persisting neurocognitive dysfunction. Normal brain function is rooted in a delicate balance between excitatory (mediated by glutamate) and inhibitory (mediated by GABA) (E/I) synaptic neurotransmission.  We will demonstrate how mTBI disrupts this delicate balance causing circuit dysfunction in the frontolimbic cortex, thus contributing to memory impairment.  We will further present data highlighting a dietary therapy that restores E/I balance and mitigates spatial memory impairments. 


About the Speaker

Akiva Cohen is an associate professor of neuroscience in the Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Cohen received his B.S. in microbiology in 1985 and his M.S. in zoology in 1989 from the University of Maryland. He received his Ph.D. in biophysics from the University of Maryland, School of Medicine, in 1994 for his work on viscerosensory neuronal excitability. Cohen completed postdoctoral training at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, where he focused on synaptic plasticity in brain slices. His lab studies the physiological mechanisms underlying and contributing to cognitive impairment caused by traumatic brain injury. Cohen recently received a prestigious MERIT award from the National Institutes of Health.