Shawn Hochman, PhD
Professor and Interim Chair
Department of Physiology
Member, Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering Graduate Programs
Emory University School of Medicine
Atlanta, Georgia 30322
Ph.D., University of Manitoba, Canada, 1989
Research: I have a long history of studies on the physiological control of spinal functional systems and their plasticity with a multi-system perspective on spinal cord functional systems. Various publication highlight our research on spinal cord motor, sensory, and autonomic function.
Emerging common links for my future research emphases are two-fold; (i) on the importance of sensory afferents in dictating CNS function and dysfunction, and (ii) on a more integrative view on behavior by simultaneously studying, as an orchestrated unit of function, the neuromodulatory control of behavioral drive systems on autonomic, motor and sensory systems.
My broad research interests have been on dysfunction in spinal sensorimotor integration (spinal cord injury, pain, autonomic dysreflexia, locomotor function, Restless Legs Syndrome). For the past 20 years, I have focused on studies in neuromodulation-based plasticity focusing on biogenic amine modulators serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. These transmitters have been linked to activation of the spinal cord circuitry generating locomotion, control of autonomic NS function, as well as the potent inhibition of spinal cord pain systems. Dysfunction is spinal dopamine is also implicated in the emergence of Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS).
I also began pioneering studies in a barely-studied class of biogenic amines called the ‘trace amines’. They appear to act on more recently cloned, apparently intracellularly-retained, metabotropic receptors, and may constitute a novel biochemical form of circuit modulation.
Recently, we have also pioneered enabling technical approaches that include hybrids between in vitro and in vivo mammalian model systems, fabrication of conformable multi-electrode arrays for spinal cord stimulation, and most recently, use of non-contact non-invasive electric field sensors for high throughput continuous characterization of rodent physio-behavioral variables in the vivarium homecage.
Conceptually, I have become very interested in the proposition that body systems insidiously control brain function to a more profound level than realized. Sensory nerve endings innervate all organ systems including those associated with cardiorespiratory function and dysfunction and may translate into altered cognitive, emotional and behavioral states.