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Krystel Huxlin, Ph.D.

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Appointment: (585) 276-3000

Biography

Research

Broadly, my research is focused on better understanding how the damaged, adult visual system can repair itself. Is the system capable of such plasticity? What are the principles governing such processes?

Our first research avenue examines neuronal changes that underlie and behavioral properties that characterize recovery of visual functions after visual cortex damage in adulthood. Psychophysical techniques are used to both measure and retrain visual performance following damage to the visual cortex. In the past, neurochemical studies in an animal model allowed us to correlate neuronal changes with the degree and type of visual recovery attained as a function of training. For the last 10 years, we have applied this knowledge to humans with cortical blindness (in the form of hemianopsia or quadrantanopsia). In addition to behavioral characterization of the properties of the recovery that can be attained with different training paradigms, we are interested in using attentional and other manipulations (e.g. transcranial magnetic stimulation, pharmacology) to enhance the recovery potential of the damaged visual system. Functional MRI is then used to study how the remaining cortical circuitry is altered by both damage and subsequently, by training. It is hoped that this body of work will not only improve our understanding of the plasticity inherent in brain-damaged individuals with vision loss, but will also ultimately improve how we treat this underserved patient population in the clinic.

Our second research avenue studies the interplay between corneal wound healing and optical quality of the eye. The eye is the sensory input to the entire visual system and it relies on a transparent and properly-shaped cornea. If the cornea is damaged, this impairs all of vision. Our laboratory is unique in having developed a behaviorally fixating animal model in which we can reliably measure optical aberrations of the eye with the same degree of precision (and using the same instruments) as in humans. We can then study corneal damage and scarring - one of the major causes of blindness world-wide, and for which there is currently no effective treatment without side-effects. Using our unique animal mode, we can correlate optical aberrations, corneal structure and biology in health and disease. Such complex correlation is essential if we are to gain the knowledge necessary to design better ways of correcting optical aberrations, with minimal side-effects in terms of corneal and ocular health.

By applying the knowledge gained in this work, we are also contributing to the development of what we hope will be a safe, non-damaging form of laser refractive correction. This method is named femtosecond-IRIS or Blue-IRIS. Instead of ablating the cornea to change its shape, IRIS uses a femtosecond laser to alter its refractive index, thus altering the cornea's light-bending properties. This fully-customizable method appears to cause no corneal scarring and opens up both a new area of theoretical investigations into corneal biology related to laser-tissue interactions. It may also allow us to create a whole new paradigm for vision correction in humans.

Credentials

Faculty Appointments

Education

1994
PhD | Australia-U Sydney Fac Med
Neuroscience

1991
BS | Australia-U Sydney Fac Med
Neuroscience

Publications

Journal Articles

5/9/2017
Cavanaugh MR, Huxlin KR. "Visual discrimination training improves Humphrey perimetry in chronic cortically induced blindness." Neurology.. 2017 May 9; 88(19):1856-1864. Epub 2017 Apr 12.

5/1/2017
Wozniak KT, Gearhart SM, Savage DE, Ellis JD, Knox WH, Huxlin KR. "Comparable change in stromal refractive index of cat and human corneas following blue-IRIS." Journal of biomedical optics.. 2017 May 1; 22(5):55007.

4/2016
Melnick MD, Tadin D, Huxlin KR. "Relearning to See in Cortical Blindness." The Neuroscientist : a review journal bringing neurobiology, neurology and psychiatry.. 2016 Apr 0; 22(2):199-212. Epub 2015 Dec 10.

Books & Chapters

2007
Chapter Title: Human Vision
Book Title: The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography
Author List: Huxlin, K.R.
Edited By: M. Peres, G. Romer, D. Malin, M. Osterman, N. Stuart, S. Williams, F. Frey and T
Published By: Elsevier Inc2007

2006
Chapter Title: Neurochemical changes underlying motion perception plasticity after visual cortex lesions
Book Title: Reprogramming The Cerebral Cortex
Author List: Huxlin, K.R.
Edited By: S.G. Lomber and J. J. Eggermont
Published By: Oxford University Press2006

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Videos

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Krystel Huxlin, Ph.D. Explains visual retraining