Leonardo G. Cohen, M.D.

Leonardo G Cohen, MD
Senior Investigator
Human Cortical Physiology and Neurorehabilitation Section, Medical Neurology Branch (MNB)

BG 10 RM 7D54

Dr. Cohen received his MD from the University of Buenos Aires. He did his neurology residency at Georgetown University and received postdoctoral training in Clinical Neurophysiology at the Department of Neurology, University of California (Irvine) and in Motor Control and Movement Disorders at the Human Motor Control Section, NINDS. In 1998 he became chief of the Human Cortical Physiology Section, NINDS. He received  the Humboldt (Humboldt Foundation) and Barbro J Johansson Award in Stroke Recovery (World Stroke Organization). He is an elected member of the American Neurological Association. Dr. Cohen's lab is interested in the mechanisms underlying plastic changes in the human central nervous system in relation to motor learning and memory formation and consolidation and in the development of novel therapeutic approaches for recovery of function after brain lesions based on the understanding of these mechanisms.



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The goal of our activity is to understand the mechanisms underlying plastic changes in the human central nervous system and to develop novel therapeutic approaches for recovery of function based on these advances. Our work has focused on the human motor system to understand skill acquisition, memory formation, consolidation and reconsolidating. We study cortical reorganization and brain network dynamics underlying behavior in patients with CNS lesions in particular stroke and traumatic brain injury. In healthy volunteers, we study cortical plasticity associated with motor skill learning and memory formation.

We utilize different techniques in the context of exploratory and well defined hypothesis-driven investigations including transcranial magnetic (TMS) and DC (tDCS) stimulation, fMRI, TMS in combination with fMRI, MR spectroscopy, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), PET scanning and magnetoencephalography (MEG). We are interested in the development of these techniques to help us to understand mechanisms of human plasticity and to modulate human brain processing. Our research protocols in healthy volunteers are geared to identify mechanisms of human neuroplasticity and to develop interventional approaches to enhance them when they play a beneficial role and down-regulate them when they are maladaptive. Advances in this understanding in healthy volunteers are subsequently applied to patients with neurological conditions like stroke in attempts to enhance neurorehabilitative processes. More recently, we started to work on decoding of brain activity spatiotemporal patterns underlying memory of errors, working memory and different forms of consolidation of skill learning.  Present activity in the lab includes characterization of replay events in awake humans related to different stages of motor learning.

Our future goals are to improve our understanding of mechanisms underlying plasticity of function in humans. On the basis of these insights, we are engaged in translational efforts to develop rational rehabilitative interventions to improve motor disability after stroke in particular using behavioral as well as open- and closed-loop brain stimulation techniques. In patients with severe hand paralysis, we use an MEG-based brain computer interface to control grasping motions of an orthosis attached to the paralyzed hand.

Buch ER, Claudino L, Quentin R, Bönstrup M, Cohen LG (2021)
Consolidation of human skill linked to waking hippocampo-neocortical replay.
Cell Rep, 35:109193. PubMed ID: 34107255

Hussain SJ, Vollmer MK, Stimely J, Norato G, Zrenner C, Ziemann U, Buch ER, Cohen LG (2021)
Phase-dependent offline enhancement of human motor memory.
Brain Stimul, 14:873-883. PubMed ID: 34048939

Hussain SJ, Hayward W, Fourcand F, Zrenner C, Ziemann U, Buch ER, Hayward MK, Cohen LG (2020)
Phase-dependent transcranial magnetic stimulation of the lesioned hemisphere is accurate after stroke.
Brain Stimul, 13:1354-1357. PubMed ID: 32687898

Bönstrup M, Iturrate I, Hebart MN, Censor N, Cohen LG (2020)
Mechanisms of offline motor learning at a microscale of seconds in large-scale crowdsourced data.
NPJ Sci Learn, 5:7. PubMed ID: 32550003

Conforto AB, Machado AG, Menezes I, Ribeiro NHV, Luccas R, Pires DS, Leite CDC, Plow EB, Cohen LG (2020)
Treatment of Upper Limb Paresis With Repetitive Peripheral Nerve Sensory Stimulation and Motor Training: Study Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial.
Front Neurol, 11:196. PubMed ID: 32269549

Sandrini M, Xu B, Volochayev R, Awosika O, Wang WT, Butman JA, Cohen LG (2020)
Transcranial direct current stimulation facilitates response inhibition through dynamic modulation of the fronto-basal ganglia network.
Brain Stimul, 13:96-104. PubMed ID: 31422052

Hussain SJ, Claudino L, Bönstrup M, Norato G, Cruciani G, Thompson R, Zrenner C, Ziemann U, Buch E, Cohen LG (2019)
Sensorimotor Oscillatory Phase-Power Interaction Gates Resting Human Corticospinal Output.
Cereb Cortex, 29:3766-3777. PubMed ID: 30496352

Quentin R, King JR, Sallard E, Fishman N, Thompson R, Buch ER, Cohen LG (2019)
Differential Brain Mechanisms of Selection and Maintenance of Information during Working Memory.
J Neurosci, 39:3728-3740. PubMed ID: 30833510

Quentin R, Cohen LG (2019)
Reversing working memory decline in the elderly.
Nat Neurosci, 22:686-688. PubMed ID: 30962629

Bönstrup M, Iturrate I, Thompson R, Cruciani G, Censor N, Cohen LG (2019)
A Rapid Form of Offline Consolidation in Skill Learning.
Curr Biol, 29:1346-1351.e4. PubMed ID: 30930043

Conforto AB, Dos Anjos SM, Bernardo WM, Silva AAD, Conti J, Machado AG, Cohen LG (2018)
Repetitive Peripheral Sensory Stimulation and Upper Limb Performance in Stroke: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.
Neurorehabil Neural Repair, 32:863-871. PubMed ID: 30198383

Saposnik G, Cohen LG, Mamdani M, Pooyania S, Ploughman M, Cheung D, Shaw J, Hall J, Nord P, Dukelow S, Nilanont Y, De Los Rios F, Olmos L, Levin M, Teasell R, Cohen A, Thorpe K, Laupacis A, Bayley M, (2016)
Efficacy and safety of non-immersive virtual reality exercising in stroke rehabilitation (EVREST): a randomised, multicentre, single-blind, controlled trial.
Lancet Neurol, 15:1019-27. PubMed ID: 27365261

Censor N, Buch ER, Nader K, Cohen LG (2016)
Altered Human Memory Modification in the Presence of Normal Consolidation.
Cereb Cortex, 26:3828-3837. PubMed ID: 26271110

Soekadar SR, Witkowski M, Birbaumer N, Cohen LG (2015)
Enhancing Hebbian Learning to Control Brain Oscillatory Activity.
Cereb Cortex, 25:2409-15. PubMed ID: 24626608

Dayan E, Hamann JM, Averbeck BB, Cohen LG (2014)
Brain structural substrates of reward dependence during behavioral performance.
J Neurosci, 34:16433-41. PubMed ID: 25471581

Song S, Cohen LG (2014)
Practice and sleep form different aspects of skill.
Nat Commun, 5:3407. PubMed ID: 24647040

Censor N, Horovitz SG, Cohen LG (2014)
Interference with existing memories alters offline intrinsic functional brain connectivity.
Neuron, 81:69-76. PubMed ID: 24411732

Sandrini M, Censor N, Mishoe J, Cohen LG (2013)
Causal role of prefrontal cortex in strengthening of episodic memories through reconsolidation.
Curr Biol, 23:2181-4. PubMed ID: 24206845

Dayan E, Censor N, Buch ER, Sandrini M, Cohen LG (2013)
Noninvasive brain stimulation: from physiology to network dynamics and back.
Nat Neurosci, 16:838-44. PubMed ID: 23799477

Soekadar SR, Witkowski M, Cossio EG, Birbaumer N, Robinson SE, Cohen LG (2013)
In vivo assessment of human brain oscillations during application of transcranial electric currents.
Nat Commun, 4:2032. PubMed ID: 23787780


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