Doctor of Philosophy- Neuroscience
Dr Jason Potas is a neuroscientist interested in somatosensory (touch, proprioception and pain) and motor systems. He received his PhD training at the University of Sydney, Australia, before undertaking post-doctoral studies in various areas relating to neural injury. Before returning to academia at the Australian National University, he worked in industry in Brazil, and currently holds a senior lecturer position (neuroanatomy) at the University of New South Wales. Dr Potas leads an independent research team seeking to understand how somatosensory information is transformed through the nervous system. His laboratory projects, combining neuroscience, neurotrauma, machine-learning and biomedical and chemical engineering, aim to restore, mimic and/or augment sensorimotor systems.
2020-2022 NHMRC Ideas Grant (APP1187416): Moalem-Taylor G, Aplin F, Potas JR, & Fridman G. A novel approach for peripheral neuromodulation: Using ionic direct current to treat chronic pain
2020-2022 ARC Discovery Project (DP200100630): Birznieks I, Vickery R, Potas JR, Shivdasani M. The role of spike patterning in shaping human perception of tactile stimuli
2019 Bootes Foundation: Potas JR. Finding the neuronal basis for early detection of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
2018 Bootes Foundation: Potas JR. Recording electrical activity in the brain toward the development of bionic touch – Funding 2
2018 SPHERE UNSW Sydney: Potas JR, Moalem-Taylor G, Birznieks I, Vickery R, Shivdasani M, Lin C, Goldstein D. Understanding brainstem sensory coding in pursuit of early detection of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy
2017 Bootes Foundation: Potas JR. Recording electrical activity in the brain toward the development of bionic touch
2015 Bootes Foundation: Potas JR. Decoding sensory signals in the spinal cord for designing a “bionic touch” neuroprosthesis
2014 Bootes Foundation: Potas JR. The use of 670 nm light for treatment of neuropathic pain
2013 Bootes Foundation: Potas JR. The use of 670 nm light treatment to promote recovery from spinal cord injury
2012 Bootes Foundation: Potas JR. Promoting nervous system regeneration with 3D nanofibre scaffolds
Augmented Sensorimotor Systems group
Our research focuses on sensory and motor systems in pursuit of a deeper understanding of basic sensorimotor neuroscience. Our translational neuroscience objectives include the augmentation of sensory and/or motor systems to overcome nervous system damage, as well as to contribute to the expanding domain of enhanced sensorimotor function and mind-machine convergence.
Our pre-clinical projects combine electrophysiology of the nervous system using high channel count multi-electrode arrays with neuroanatomy and a variety of data science techniques including machine learning. We study the peripheral nervous system, spinal cord, and brain under normal conditions as well as neurotrauma. Human psychophysics draws correlations between our pre-clinical models and human perception. We also develop unique computational tools for neural signal analysis.
We have a variety of projects underway which include pain and touch processing in the pursuit of basic and applied knowledge for the development of diagnostic devices, brain machine interfaces and neural prosthetics (sensory and motor bionics). We are also developing a novel nanotechnology for delivery of drugs and genes to precise targets of the spinal cord with the aim of restoring movement and autonomous control.
Sensory tactile coding: We combine neural recordings from the nervous system with human psychophysics to improve our understanding of sensory processing as well as the effects of chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy. This knowledge will help us develop diagnostic tools for evaluating nerve function as well as the development of sensory neural prostheses (see: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2020.00156).
Ionic direct current stimulation: We are investigating a novel stimulation technique (iDC) for neuromodulation of pain pathways. This technique permits us to excite, and well as inhibit nerves carrying pain information but with minimal impact on other sensory pathways. This project will help us develop better tools for blocking drug-resistant pain with minimal side effects to other sensory systems such as touch and proprioception.
Nanomedicine: We collaborate with chemical engineers to develop new nanomedicine drug and gene delivery systems that permits us to precisely target specific regions of the spinal cord. With this technology we aim to modifying pain, spasticity, and deliver genes for our OptoSpine project.
OptoSpine is a new optical-based bionics system for overcoming paralysis. We collaborate with molecular physiologists and chemical engineers to precisely deliver genes to spinal cord motor neurons, so they become responsive to light, and biomedical engineers to develop an optical-based neural prosthesis. This project aims to restore function to paralysed patients using artificial intelligent control of their genetically modified light-sensitive motor neurons.
Signal analysis: We are developing new software analytical tools which permits the analysis of complex neuronal spike-waveform interactions for improving the analysis of evoked potentials. These tools permit us to analyse large and complex multi-channel data sets for improving our basic understand of neuronal coding.