Rodents and Recovery with Behavioral Neuroscientist Dr. Theresa A. Jones

August 2, 2021

Rodents and Recovery with Behavioral Neuroscientist Dr. Theresa A. Jones


Noggins And Neurons Facebook Group


Rodents and Recovery with Behavioral Neuroscientist Dr. Theresa A. Jones

PETE: So one of the things I find interesting about fMRI’ doesn’t directly measure neuroplastic change and I always thought you would have to get really lucky drilling a hole through the skull, through the meninges and somehow get a very big microscope and see actual synaptogenesis and you’d have to get very lucky that those neurons just happen to get connected at that point. But you’re saying in this model they glow green and you can see that process happening in individual neurons?


DR. JONES: I feel so lucky to have lived long enough for these techniques in neuroscience that I had nothing to do with to be dropped into my lap. Yeah these, they’re transgenic mice that seem to be normal except they have been manipulated to have fluorescent proteins expressed in a subset of their cortical neurons, so that you can see the dendritic barbers of the cortical neurons either through thin skull or through implanted windows. And so you can watch the same parts of a neuron over time and see how they change and because you have the windows are big, you look at a whole big dendritic field and at least with cortical changes in response to learning new ways of moving, those changes seem not just to be in one neuron. I mean there’s crazy activity that gets instigated and, after a stroke, there’s crazy activity I don’t mean activity...I mean structural changes in neurons. A structural neural plasticity um is just explosive in response to strokes because that’s the remodeling process.

EPISODE SUMMARY: In this episode of NOGGINS & NEURONS: Brain Injury Recovery Simplified, Pete and Deb engage in stimulating conversation with Dr. Theresa A. Jones, a behavioral neuroscientist from University of Texas at Austin. We talk about:

  • Translating research from bench side to bedside and what that means in terms of informing clinical practice and brain injury recovery
  • The importance of communication when translating research from animals to humans and questions are key, especially in terms of parameters and boundaries. Conditions matter!
  • Background details in Dr. Jones’ research such as age and health status of animals as it relates and applies to humans.
  • Some advantages of studying animal models include studying topic area one at a time, generalizing information, aging animals
  • The behavioral changes that follow stroke are major players in stroke outcome!
  • Intensity, timing and potential for harm; the VECTORS trial and mobilizing clients following stroke.
  • Repair and remodeling processes depend on neural activity patterns which are determined by behavioral experiences
  • Behavioral compensation is one of the most obvious ways behavioral adaptation (change) occurs following stroke and can be a major driver in brain remodeling after stroke
  • Compensation coupled with disuse impedes recovery of more normal movement
  • Bimanual training in animal models to learn about influence on unimanual function
  • Patterns of synaptic changes across both hemispheres that occur with learning new ways of using the good limb on its own vs. together with the affected limb
  • Dr. Jones’ thoughts on:
    • writing, which is a skill
    • rabbit holes and tangents-they’re fun
    • ways to improve communication, which might include putting the ego aside

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Dr. Jones. She is a true delight and makes information about brain research and stroke recovery understandable.

As always, we want to hear your top takeaways!


Theresa A. Jones, PhD Articles:

Jones TA (2017) Motor compensation and its effects on neural reorganization after stroke. Nature Reviews Neuroscience. 18:267-280.

Clark TA, Sullender C, Jacob D, Zuo Y, Dunn AK & Jones TA (2019) Rehabilitative training interacts with ischemia instigated spine dynamics to promote a lasting population of new synapses in peri-infarct motor cortex.  Journal of Neuroscience, 39: 8471-848

Dutcher AM, Truong KV, Miller DD, Allred RP, Nudi E & Jones TA (2021) Training in a cooperative bimanual skilled reaching task, the popcorn retrieval task, improves unimanual function after motor cortical infarcts in rats. Behavioural Brain Research, 396:

Dorothy A. Kozlowski, PhD and Theresa A. Jones, PhD Articles:

Use-Dependent Structural Events in Recovery of Function

Use Dependent Exaggeration of Neuronal Injury After Unilateral Sensorimotor Cortex Lesions

Use Dependent Exacerbation of Brain Damage Occurs During an Early Post-Lesion Vulnerable Period

Neural Plasticity and Neural Rehabilitation Following Traumatic Brain Injury

Combinatorial Motor Training Results in Functional Reorganization of Remaining Motor Cortex After Controlled Cortical Impact in Rats

Combining Multiple Types of Motor Rehabilitation Enhances Skilled Forelimb Use Following Experimental Traumatic Brain Injury in Rats

Learned Non-Use Article

Barth, J., Geed, S., Mitchell, A., Lum, P. S., Edwards, D. F., & Dromerick, A. W. (2020). Characterizing upper extremity motor behavior in the first week after stroke. PloS one15(8), e0221668. 



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