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MUSC Neurology and Neurosurgery

Prakash Kara, Ph.D.

Associate Professor (MUSC Neurosciences, MUSC Ophthalmology, Clemson Bioengineering)

Contact Information
843-792-2137 (Office @ MUSC)
843-792-2561 (Lab @ MUSC)

Link to the Kara Lab page

BSc(Med)(Hons), Physiology 1990, University of Cape Town, South Africa
MSc(Med), Physiology, 1993, University of Cape Town
Ph.D., Physiology and Biophysics, 1998, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Harvard Medical School, 1998-2000
Research Associate, Harvard Medical School, 2000-2003
Instructor, Harvard Medical School, 2003-2005

Research Interests
The Kara lab studies how neural connections from eye to brain are refined and remodeled during the critical periods of postnatal development. Instead of using traditional anatomical methods, we use in vivo electrophysiological and new high resolution imaging techniques to rapidly assay functional connections and maps with extraordinary spatial and temporal resolution. We watch individual neurons in the intact brain ‘light-up’ when optimal visual stimuli for those neurons are presented to a subject. When hundreds of neighboring neurons respond to a particular feature of the visual stimulus, adjacent functional columns (each processing different stimuli) are readily detected. We can observe many features of functional columns, including their borders, with sub-micron level precision. The sensitivity and resolution of our in vivo techniques are ideally suited for studying the postnatal refinement of functional connections, circuits, and maps in the intact brain with normal sensory experience, or perturbations thereof. Since any study of development requires a firm understanding of how neurons and circuits perform in adulthood, our research shifts back and forth between unraveling coding principles used in the adult nervous system and investigate the mechanisms underlying their establishment in the developing neonatal brain.

The novelty of our electrophysiological approach is that it encompasses recording the activity of neurons simultaneously from three successive levels of the visual hierarchy, i.e. retina, thalamus, and visual cortex. The versatility of our in vivo 2-photon imaging method is that we can perform functional imaging of the cerebral cortex at the level of subcellular components such as dendrites to large populations of cell bodies in almost any mammalian species. By combining microstimulation and micropharmacological techniques with our electrophysiological or imaging methods, we address many of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that drive the refinement of functional connections and maps in the intact brain.


Selected Publications

Levy M, Lu Z, Dion G, Kara P (2014). The shape of dendritic arbors in different functional domains of the cortical orientation map.  Journal of Neuroscience (In Press).

Chhatbar PY and Kara P (2013) Improved blood velocity measurements with a hybrid image filtering and iterative Radon transform algorithm. Frontiers in Neuroscience 7, 106.

Levy M, Schramm AE, Kara P (2012) Strategies for mapping synaptic inputs on dendrites in vivo by combining two-photon microscopy, sharp intracellular recording, and pharmacology. Frontiers in Neural Circuits 6,101.

O’Herron P, Shen Z, Lu, Z, & Kara P (2012) Targeted labeling of neurons in a specific functional micro-domain of the neocortex by combining intrinsic signal and two-photon imaging. Journal of Visualized Experiments 70, e50025.

Shen, Z, Lu Z, Chhatbar PY, O’Herron and Kara P (2012). An artery-specific fluorescent dye for studying neurovascular coupling in vivo. Nature Methods 9, 273-276.

Kara P and Boyd JD (2009). A micro-architecture for binocular disparity and ocular dominance in visual cortex. Nature 442, 925-928.

Ohki K, Chung S, Kara P, Hubener M, Bonhoeffer T, Reid RC (2006). Highly ordered arrangement of single neurons in orientation pinwheels. Nature 442, 925-928.

Ohki K, Chung S, Ch'ng, YH, Kara P, and Reid RC (2005). Micro-architecture of visual cortex: functional maps with single-cell precision. Nature 433, 597-603.

Kara P and Reid RC. (2003). The efficacy of retinal spikes in driving cortical responses. J Neurosci. 23, 8547-8557.

Kanold PO, Kara P, Reid RC, and Shatz, CJ. (2003). The subplate is required for functional organization of visual cortical columns. Science 301, 521-525.

Kara, P, Pezaris JS, Yurgenson S, and Reid, RC. (2002). The spatial receptive field of thalamic inputs to single cortical simple cells revealed by the interaction of visual and electrical stimulation.  Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 99, 16261-16266.

Kara P, Reinagel P, and Reid RC. (2000). Low response variability in simultaneously recorded retinal, thalamic, and cortical neurons. Neuron 27, 635-646.

Kara P, and Friedlander MJ. (1999). Arginine analogues modify signal detection by neurons in the visual cortex. J  Neurosci.  19, 5528-5548.

NIH National Eye Institute R01


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