UTSA professor receives $1.29 million grant to chase the brain's deepest mysteries
(May 22, 2017) -- Alfonso Apicella, assistant professor of biology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA), has received a $1.29 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support his research in communication between the two halves of the brain.
"Dr. Apicella's work is a source of immense pride," said George Perry, Semmes Foundation Distinguished University Chair in Neurobiology and dean of the UTSA College of Sciences. "This is an exciting time for brain health research, and this work is another example of UTSA's top-tier research efforts."
Apicella's research focuses on the corpus callosum, a bundle of neural fibers that makes communication between the two hemispheres of the brain possible. It is largely mysterious to scientists.
"We still don't know what mechanisms the corpus callosum uses, therefore we cannot study in very great details its functions and effects," Apicella said.
With this new grant, Apicella will delve into the connection between the corpus callosum and auditory signals.
"When you hear something with your left ear, the right part of your brain processes it and vice versa," he said. "The two hemispheres are working together to respond to the sound. What we're trying to understand is how they're working together through the corpus callosum."
Apicella is taking a special look at schizophrenia since it is frequently characterized by auditory hallucinations. He believes those hallucinations could be a result of miscommunication between the brain's two hemispheres.
Another focus will be autism. Previous research has shown that individuals with autism can have a thin or underdeveloped corpus callosum. Animals with this characteristic tend not to interact socially. Apicella believes that a greater understanding of autism could lie in a better understanding of the corpus callosum.
"A number of medical conditions could be addressed with this research," he said. "It's not a cure, but it's a step along the way and in the process we'll be chasing one of the brain's oldest mysteries."
UTSA is ranked among the top 400 universities in the world and among the top 100 in the nation, according to Times Higher Education.
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Biology.
Students are invited to a semi-formal, dinner banquet with an awards presentation and dancing. Keynote speaker will be San Antonio City Councilman William Cruz Shaw. Tickets must be purchased by Feb 19 at Roadrunner Express. UTSA students are $15 and guests are $20.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
Dr. Don Jenkins from UT Health SA will lead this event UTSA with up to 30 certified STB trainers, and train up to 300 UTSA students and personnel in stop the bleed methods.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.106), Main Campus
Get to know more about the Bexar County Criminal District Court candidates' stance on the issues before voting in the primary election on March 6.Buena Vista Street Building, Aula Canaria (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
As part of RecycleMania,UTSA will provide sensitive document shredding services for the UTSA community. Bring documents to the parking lot between Student Union & Ximenes Avenue Garage. Document pick up also available for the Downtown and Hemisfair Campuses.H-E-B Student Union parking lot, Main Campus
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Koichiro Bansho will speak the importance of the Japan-U.S. relations from the historical and security perspectives. He will go over the history and future of the alliance between the two countries.H-E-B Student Union, Travis Room (HSU 2.202), Main Campus
This panel discussion includes professionals from various careers and fields talking about maintaining a black identity in professional spaces.Student Union Denman Room (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
The Faculty Center presents geneticist, anthropologist, author & entrepreneur Spencer Wells. Join us for a talk about how our DNA informs the way our ancestors populated the planet and how research can change industry and perceptions.Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus
Come hear this geneticist, anthropologist, author and entrepreneur speak about "The Human Journey: A Genetic Odyssey." The lecture is free and open to the public.Student Union, Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus