Prof. Gerald E Schneider

Professor of Neuroscience, Emeritus

Primary DLC

Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences

MIT Room: 46-2051

Areas of Interest and Expertise

Axonal Growth and its Plasticity in the Visual System
Central Nervous System Regeneration of Lost Connections
Computer Simulation of Neuronal Development
Animal Behavior
Systems Neuroscience

Research Summary

Current research: axon regeneration in the central nervous system with functional recovery; special topics in human neuropsychology and perception; studies of the brains of sea mammals.

The discovery and publication of the “two visual systems” (1967, 1969) set the stage for much of what followed. After the early work with adult brain lesions, I pursued studies of brain damage early in life and found reasons why the functional effects of lesions in young animals were so different from those in adults: Axonal connections became altered in various ways. The implications are clear: Such abnormalities must occur in humans with early brain damage, as in cerebral palsy, some forms of schizophrenia, and some cases of mental retardation. Much of this work was published in the ‘70s (1973-1979). In 1981, the first paper on CNS axon regeneration was published, and this work has continued, using both neonate and adult animals, in collaboration with former students. We have found that a self-assembling peptide solution, discovered at MIT by T. Holmes and S. Zhang, will form a nanofiber mesh in the CNS wound site which serves as an effective bridge for axon growth (Ellis-Behnke et al. 2006a). This material also stops bleeding rapidly, without coagulation, not only in brain but in many other tissues (Ellis-Behnke et al. 2006b).

Additional research interests: Human perception and the phenomenon of central visual persistence (a kind of photographic short-term memory) with development of a new interpretation; neuropsychological and neurological effects of hypoglycemia; comparative anatomical studies of the brains of sea mammals, currently concentrating on the California sea lion.

Recent Work