Robert H LaMotte, PhD

Professor of Anesthesiology and of Neurobiology

Research Organizations

Anesthesiology: LaMotte Lab | NIH T32 Program

Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program

Research Summary

Our research focuses on the neural mechanisms of pain and itch. Experiments on pain examine the functional properties of dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons in the rodent. We are currently interested in how electrophysiological and neurochemical changes in these properties, occurring after a chronic compression of the DRG (CCD model), lead to behavioral signs of neuropathic pain. This type of pain might be produced in humans after injuries and degenerative disorders of the spine. Our experiments on itch use psychophysical methods in humans and behavioral testing in animals to measure itch and nociceptive sensations that can occur under normal conditions and after inflammatory or neuropathic disorders affecting the skin.

In our animal models, the neural encoding of normal and pathological itch vs. pain is measured using imaging and electrophysiological recordings of visualized sensory neurons in vitro and in vivo. Transgenic mice are used that express a fluorescent marker in a subset of itch or pain mediating DRG neuron to facilitate identification for functional studies. A major goal is to identify neurons and neurochemical mechanisms that could be targeted in clinical treatments of chronic pruritus or pain.

Selected Publications

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