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Neurophysiological Pharmacology Section - Division of Intramural Research


Judith R. Walters Image

Judith R. Walters, Ph.D., Senior Investigator

Dr. Walters received her B.A. degree from Mt. Holyoke College and her Ph.D. from Yale University, where she studied the pharmacology and neurophysiology of the dopamine system in the basal ganglia. After postdoctoral work at Yale, she joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and then moved to the Experimental Therapeutics Branch in NINDS, where she now serves as Chief of the Neurophysiological Pharmacology Section. Her laboratory explores the role of dopamine in basal ganglia-thalamocortical function.

Laboratory Staff

Elena Brazhnik, Ph.D., Staff Scientist
Christine Dice, M.A., Office Manager
Christina Hatch, B.S., Post baccalaureate Fellow
Anne Kask, B.S., Contractor
Nikolay Novikov, M.D., Ph.D., Contractor
Marian Wahba, B.A., Post baccalaureate Fellow

Research Interests

The goal of the Neurophysiological Pharmacology Section is to elucidate the function of specific neuronal systems in regulating information processing in basal ganglia-thalamocortical networks. The Section interests are currently focused on relationships between dopamine and basal ganglia-thalamocortical system function and dysfunction, especially with respect to movement disorders. Effort is directed toward identifying mechanisms that could be manipulated to prevent, correct, and/or compensate for dysfunction occurring in these systems in disorders such as Parkinson's disease, dyskinesia, Huntington's disease, Tourette's syndrome and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Neurophysiological approaches are utilized to investigate activity in basal ganglia-thalamocortical circuits in normal and abnormal motor states and the potential for modulating basal ganglia- thalamocortical network function with drugs and other interventions, such as deep brain stimulation. An area of current interest is the role of dopamine receptor stimulation in modulation of synchronized and oscillatory neuronal activity in a range of frequencies in the context of basal ganglia-thalamocortical network function and dysfunction. Techniques include in vivo recordings in anesthetized and awake behaving rodent preparations in conjunction with selective lesion, stimulation or drug treatments, and biochemical, behavioral and anatomical measures.


Selected Recent Publications

  • Avila I,Parr-Brownlie LC, Brazhnik E, Castaneda E, Bergstrom DA and Walters JR
    Beta Frequency Synchronization in Basal Ganglia Output during Rest and Walk in a Hemiparkinsonian Rat, Experimental Neurology, 2010, vol. 221, pp. 307-319.
  • Walters JR, Tierney PL and Bergstrom DA
    Oscillatory activity and synchronization in the basal ganglia network in rodent models of Parkinson's disease, The Basal Ganglia IX, edited by HJ Groenewegen et al., 2009, pp. 443-459.
  • Parr-Brownlie LC, Poloskey SL, Bergstrom DA and Walters JR
    Parafascicular thalamic nucleus activity in a rat model of Parkinson's disease, Experimental Neurology, 2009, vol. 217, pp. 269-281. Full Text/Abstract
  • Pelled G, Bergstrom DA, Tierney PL, Conroy RS, Chuang KH, Leopold DA, Walters JR and Koretsky AP
    Ipsilateral cortical fMRI responses after peripheral nerve damage in rats reflect increased interneuron activity, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 2009, vol. 106, pp. 14114-14119. Full Text/Abstract
  • Walters JR and Bergstrom DA
    Basal ganglia network synchronization in animal models of Parkinson's disease, Cortical-Subcortical Dynamics in Parkinson's Disease, edited by KY Tseng, 2009, pp. 117-142.
  • Di Martino A, Scheres A, Margulies DS, Kelly AMC, Uddin LQ, Shehzad Z, Biswal B, Walters JR, Castellanos FX and Milham MP
    Functional connectivity of human striatum: a resting state fMRI study, Cerebral Cortex, 2008, vol. 18, pp. 2735-2747. Full Text/Abstract
  • Aravamuthan BR, Bergstrom DA, French RA, Taylor JJ, Parr-Brownlie LC and Walters JR
    Altered neuronal activity relationships between the pedunculopontine nucleus and motor cortex in a rodent model of Parkinson's disease, Experimental Neurology, 2008, vol. 213, pp. 268-280. Full Text/Abstract
  • Parr-Brownlie LC, Poloskey SL, Flanagan KK, Eisenhofer E, Bergstrom DA and Walters JR
    Dopamine lesion-induced changes in subthalamic nucleus activity are not associated with alterations in firing rate or pattern in layer V neurons of the anterior cingulate cortex in anesthetized rats , European Journal of Neuroscience, 2007, vol. 26, pp. 1925-1939. Full Text/Abstract

Selected Earlier Publications


Contact Information

Neurophysiological Pharmacology Section, NINDS
Porter Neuroscience Research Center
Building 35, Room 1C-905
35 Convent Drive, MSC 3702
Bethesda, MD 20892-3702

Telephone: 301-496-2067 (office), 301-496-2067 (laboratory), 301-402-0625 (fax)
Email: waltersj@ninds.nih.gov