Jones, Theresa

Theresa Jones

Professor
Department of Psychology



tj@psy.utexas.edu

Phone: 512-232-1814

Office Location
SEA 6.106

Postal Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts
1 University Station A8000
Austin, TX 78712

My laboratory studies plasticity of neural structure and synaptic connectivity in adult animals following brain damage and during skill learning. Damage to the adult brain triggers a regenerative counter-reaction that remodels the connectivity of surviving neurons. Our research in rodent stroke models indicates that this neural remodeling response is exquisitively sensitive to behavioral changes, including compensatory behaviors that animals develop spontaneously and those induced by motor rehabilitative training. This work supports that the functional benefit of regenerative responses depends on them being driven into functionally beneficial directions by appropriate behavioral pressures. Left on their own, regenerative responses can be suboptimal and even detrimental to functional outcome. Additional research focuses on motor skill learning-induced plasticity of motor cortex and cerebellum and on the intercoordination of glial, vascular and neuronal plasticity. In addition to probing mechanisms of neural remodeling after brain damage, a goal is to better understand how to optimize behavior as "therapy" to improve functional outcomes.

Broadly speaking, our research interests are the neurobiology of learning and memory and neural plasticity after brain damage.  Our past research has focused on three main questions:

microscope

  1. How does the brain change in response to altered behavioral experience?
  2. How does the brain change in adaptation to injury?
  3. How do behavioral experiences influence brain adaptation to injury?

The brain bases of learning and memory and of behavioral adaptation to brain damage are heavily interactive. Understanding the nature of their interactions is the major focus of our current work. We have two major lines of research. The first uses a model system approach to understand neural mechanisms of behavioral compensation for brain damage, including stroke.  The second is heavily guided by the first and focuses on the use of motor rehabilitation, alone and in combination with other therapies, to drive more effective neural and behavioral adaptation to brain damage.

Kim, S. Y., Allred, R. P., Adkins, D. L., Tennant, K. A., Donlan, N. A., Kleim, J. A. & Jones, T. A. (2015) Experience with the “good” limb induces aberrant synaptic plasticity in the perilesion cortex after stroke. Journal of Neuroscience, 35: 8604-8610.link

Jones, T. A. & Adkins, D. L. (2015). Motor system reorganization after stroke – stimulating and training towards perfection. Physiology, 30: 358-370.

O’Bryant, A. J., Adkins, D. L., Sitko, A. A., Combs, H., Nordquist, S. & Jones, T. A. (2015). Enduring post-stroke motor functional improvements by a well-timed combination of motor rehabilitative training and cortical stimulation in rats. Neuorehabilitation & Neural Repair, Dec 19. pii: 1545968314562112. [Epub ahead of print]

Tennant, K. A., Kerr, A. L, Adkins, D. L., Donlan, N., Thomas, N., Kleim, J. A. & Jones, T. A. (2014). Age-dependent reorganization of peri-infarct “premotor” cortex with task-specific rehabilitative training in mice. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 29: 193-202.

Allred, R. P., Kim, S. Y. & Jones, T. A. (2014). Use it and/or lose it-experience effects on brain remodeling across time after stroke. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8: 379link

O’Bryant, A. J., Adkins, D. L., Sitko, A. A., Combs, H., Nordquist, S. & Jones, T. A. (2014). Enduring post-stroke motor functional improvements by a well-timed combination of motor rehabilitative training and cortical stimulation in rats. Neuorehabilitation & Neural Repair, Dec 19. pii: 1545968314562112. [Epub ahead of print]