Akiva S. Cohen, PhD

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Research Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care
Assistant Investigator, Joseph Stokes, Jr. Research Institute, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Member, Institute of Neurological Sciences, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
Department: Anesthesiology and Critical Care
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine
3401 Civic Center Boulevard
Abramson Research Center, Room 816-H
Philadelphia, PA 19104-4399
Office: (215) 590-1472
Fax: (267) 426-5165
BS (Microbiology)
University of Maryland College Park, 1985.
MS (Zoology)
University of Maryland College Park, 1989.
PhD (Biophysics)
University of Maryland School of Medicine, 1994.
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Description of Research Expertise

Head Injury, Hippocampus, Cognitive Impairment

Injury-induced altered brain excitability, circuit rearrangement and synaptic function

Intracellular and extracellular recording, whole-cell patch-clamp recording, immunocytochemistry, biochemistry and calcium fluorescence. Visualized and blind in vitro recording techniques. Electrophysiologic recording in neuronal cultures as well as cell lines and conditioned fear response behavior.

Our principal research interest is focused on the fundamental cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie cognitive impairments associated with traumatic brain injury. We are primarily concerned with alterations in neuronal excitability in the limbic system of the brain. This system has been shown to play a primary role in higher cognitive function e.g. learning and memory and is damaged in traumatic brain injury. We incorporate a variety of techniques to understand the nature and functional consequences of injury-induced alterations.

Our studies begin with conditioned fear response behavior to assess cognitive impairments and extracellular recording to evaluate injured hippocampal function. Unbiased stereology is then used to quantify the degree of cell death. Excitatory and inhibitory synaptic recording is utilized to further determine the function of surviving neurons. Immunocytochemical and biochemical techniques are used to examine specific proteins that have been altered by injury and may be underlying synaptic and/or circuit dysfunction. The combination of these methodologies should help elucidate putative mechanisms causing injury-induced cognitive deficits. A better understanding of these injury-induced alterations will provide insight for directing the development of potential therapies that would ameliorate cognitive dysfunction in traumatic brain injured patients.

Selected Publications

Best KM, Mojena MM, Barr GA, Schmidt HD, Cohen AS.: Endogenous Opioid Dynorphin Is a Potential Link between Traumatic Brain Injury, Chronic Pain, and Substance Use Disorder. J Neurotrauma May 2022.

Elliott JE, Keil AT, Mithani S, Gill JM, O'Neil ME, Cohen AS, Lim MM.: Dietary Supplementation With Branched Chain Amino Acids to Improve Sleep in Veterans With Traumatic Brain Injury: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Pilot and Feasibility Trial. Front Syst Neurosci 16: 854874, May 2022.

Mao S, Xiong G, Johnson BN, Cohen NA, Cohen AS: Blocking Cross-Species Secondary Binding When Performing Double Immunostaining With Mouse and Rat Primary Antibodies. Front Neurosci 15: 579859, May 2021 Notes: eCollection 2021.

White BR, Padawer-Curry JA, Ko T, Baker W, Breimann J, Cohen AS, Licht DJ, Yodh AG: Wavelength censoring for spectroscopy in optical functional neuroimaging. Phys Med Biol 66: 065026, March 2021.

Folweiler KA, Xiong G, Best KM, Metheny HE, Nah G, Cohen AS: Traumatic Brain Injury Diminishes Feedforward Activation of Parvalbumin-Expressing Interneurons in the Dentate Gyrus. eNeuro 7(6): ENEURO.0195-19.2020, November 2020.

Folweiler KA, Sandsmark DK, Diaz-Arrastia R, Cohen AS, Masino AJ: Unsupervised Machine Learning Reveals Novel Traumatic Brain Injury Patient Phenotypes with Distinct Acute Injury Profiles and Long-Term Outcomes. J Neurotrauma 37(12): 1431-1444, June 2020.

Ahrens-Nickla RC, Tecedor L, Hall AF, Lysenko E, Cohen AS, Davidson BL, Marsh ED: Neuronal network dysfunction precedes storage and neurodegeneration in a lysosomal storage disorder. JCI Insight 4(21): e13961, November 2019.

White BR, Padawer-Curry JA, Cohen AS, Licht DJ, Yodh AG: Brain segmentation, spatial censoring, and averaging techniques for optical functional connectivity imaging in mice. Biomed Opt Express 10(11): 5952-5973, November 2019.

Paterno R, Metheny H, Cohen AS: Memory deficit in an object location task after mild TBI is associated with impaired early object exploration and both are restored by branched chain amino acid dietary therapy. J Neurotrauma 35(17): 2117-2124, September 2018.

Folweiler K, Samuel S, Metheny H, Cohen AS: Diminished dentate gyrus filtering of cortical input leads to enhanced area CA3 excitability after mild traumatic brain injury. J Neurotrauma 35(11): 1304-1317, June 2018.

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Last updated: 10/26/2022
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