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Giuliano Taccola

Spinal cord neurophysiology

Giuliano Taccola Researcher

Giuliano Taccola obtained his degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Technology at the University of Genova and his doctorate in Neurobiology at SISSA in 2005.

He continued his activity in SISSA, collaborating in opening the Applied Neurophysiology and Neuropharmacology laboratory SPINAL-SISSA at the Istituto di Medicina Fisica e Riabilitazione (IMFR) in Udine. This laboratory represents the first Italian reality in the neurorehabilitation field to join basic and clinical research.

Since 2008, year in which he earned his position as Assistant Professor in Pharmacology, he has been conducting his research activity at the SPINAL laboratory in Udine, where he coordinates a group of young neuroscientists trained in the use of the electrophysiological techniques for intra- and extra- cellular recordings from experimental preparations of in vitro spinal cords.


research summary

Neurophysiology and neuropharmacology of the spinal cord

The research interests of the laboratory are focused on the neurophysiology and neuropharmacology of the spinal cord, before and after lesion, with a particular emphasis on the functional organization of the neuronal circuits responsible for the generation of the locomotor rhythm (locomotor central pattern generator, CPG). The main scientific goal is to identify new experimental strategies to activate the CPG, in a perspective to propose new therapeutic interventions for the functional recovery of standing posture and deambulation after spinal cord injury.

Several innovative patterns of electrical stimulation have been devised in our lab by sampling the rhythmic noisy waves that appear during fictive or real motor patterns recorded, respectively, from the isolated neonatal rat spinal cord or from EMG recordings of lower limbs during real locomotion in healthy volunteers.

Their combination with pharmacological stimulation is a further aspect that our group is considering to synergize the performance of these protocol.

In collaboration with international partners, experts in preclinical rodent models, we are also assessing how different protocols of electrical stimulation or forced passive motor activity can modulate the hyperactivity of in vitro dorsal networks and thus alleviate the neuropathic pain associated with a spinal damage or with a lesion of the peripheral nerve.

The collaboration with young mathematicians is pursued in order to have available new methods of analysis to decipher how the noise contained in variable stimulating patterns can be beneficial to the activation of neuronal networks. Moreover, the development of always more sophisticated tools to quantify the degree of neuronal network activation is followed.

Joined projects with bioengineers are sponsored to develop new and more efficient devices for electrical stimulation.

The daily contact with clinical researchers of the IMFR supports the laboratory in focusing its studies towards the open questions in the neurorehabilitation of persons with a spinal cord injury and offers the possibility to translate the most promising observations obtained in our laboratory into clinics.

Selected publications


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