Krystel Huxlin, Ph.D.

Krystel Huxlin, Ph.D.

Contact Information

University of Rochester Medical Center
School of Medicine and Dentistry
601 Elmwood Ave, Box 314
Rochester, NY 14642

Research Bio

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.

Recent Journal Articles

Showing the 5 most recent journal articles. 56 available »

2016 Apr
Melnick MD, Tadin D, Huxlin KR. "Relearning to See in Cortical Blindness." The Neuroscientist : a review journal bringing neurobiology, neurology and psychiatry. 2016 Apr; 22(2):199-212. Epub 2015 Dec 10.
2015 Sep
Jeon KI, Phipps RP, Sime PJ, Huxlin KR. "Inhibitory effects of PPAR? ligands on TGF-?1-induced CTGF expression in cat corneal fibroblasts." Experimental eye research. 2015 Sep; 138:52-8. Epub 2015 Jul 02.
2015 Feb
Kavcic V, Triplett RL, Das A, Martin T, Huxlin KR. "Role of inter-hemispheric transfer in generating visual evoked potentials in V1-damaged brain hemispheres." Neuropsychologia. 2015 Feb; 68:82-93. Epub 2015 Jan 07.
Issen L, Huxlin KR, Knill D. "Spatial integration of optic flow information in direction of heading judgments." Journal of vision. 2015 15(6):14.
Levi A, Shaked D, Tadin D, Huxlin KR. "Is improved contrast sensitivity a natural consequence of visual training?" Journal of vision. 2015 15(10):4.

Current Appointments

James V. Aquavella, MD Professorship in Ophthalmology - Department of Ophthalmology (SMD)
Professor - Department of Ophthalmology (SMD) - Primary
Director of Research - Department of Ophthalmology (SMD)
Professor - Department of Neuroscience (SMD)
Professor - Department of Brain/Cognitive Sciences RC (RC)
Professor - Center for Visual Science A&S (RC)


PhD | Neuroscience | Australia-U Sydney Fac Med1994
BS | Neuroscience | Australia-U Sydney Fac Med1991