Elmira College News
Douglas Blackiston Presents for EC Lecture Series in the Sciences
November 2nd, 2012
Dr. Douglas Blackiston, a researcher at Tufts University, gave a lecture entitled Plasticity of the Vertebrate Nervous System: The Brain's Response to Novel Sensory Information on October 23, 2012, as part of Elmira College’s Lecture Series in the Sciences. In his lecture, Dr. Blackiston discussed plasticity within the vertebrate nervous system and how the brain adapts to abnormal signaling. A major roadblock in the treatment of human sensory disorders, including blindness, has been an incomplete understanding of the nervous system and its ability to adapt to abnormal signals.
While progress has been made towards creating artificial or biological replacement eye’s for blind patients, how the brain responds to an implanted structure is unknown. Dr. Blackiston used techniques in an aquatic frog species to create additional, fully functional, eyes along the body of the organism. These eyes confer vision to the frogs, even if they are located far from the head of the individual. His current work examines how ectopic eyes communicate with the brain, including cases where the two are not directly connected. Results from Dr. Blackiston's studies are helping to shed light on many fundamental questions regarding nervous system plasticity in vertebrates, and will be valuable in the continuing search for treatments to human sensory disorders.