Area 4

Neurophysiology and functional studies of the nervous system

Team leader

Strategic objectives

Expansion of scientific knowledge on functional aspects of the nervous system, with maximum integration of basic and clinical aspects, fundamentally using neurophysiological techniques. From the clinical perspective, the principal objectives are the characterization of the neurophysiological aspects of motor control and perception, and the physiopathological aspects of neuromuscular diseases, sleep disturbances, epilepsy, and conditions characterized by neuropathic pain. In basic research, the principal objective is to understand the way that sensory neurons change their excitability in response to njury, inflammation or other abnormalities, as well as the role of different ion channels in the generation of inflammatory and neuropathic pain. The ocular research lines study the cellular processes involved in dry eye and glaucoma pathophysiology.

Main lines of research

  1. The participation of subcortical motor systems in the execution of movements, postural maintenance and reflex control. Study of the alarm circuits based on auditory or somatosensory stimuli. Prepulse phenomena.
  2. Physiology and physiopathology of neuropathic pain. Study of nociceptive evoked potentials. Reflex reactions of the autonomous nervous system in response to nociceptive stimulation. Conscious sensory perception.
  3. Study of sleep and its disturbances in different disorders. "Narcolepsy" "Excessive daytime sleepiness "and "REM sleep behaviour disorder". Sleep multiple latency testing. Restless legs syndrome. Periodic leg movements during sleep.
  4. Epileptic phenomena and their treatment. Status epilepticus. Monitoring of epileptic seizures. Video-EEG and epidural recording. Epileptic crisis recordings with functional magnetic resonance imaging.
  5. Characterization of ion channels involved in neuronal excitability in the sensory nervous system. Study of their role in sensory transduction and the generation of inflammatory and neuropathic pain.
  6. Physiology of aqueous humor drainage and physiopathology of glaucoma. Ocular pathology in aging. Physiology of the cells of the ocular trabecular meshwork. Physiopathology of dry eye.
  7. Axonal excitability and physiology of peripheral nerve reactions to local anesthetics or other types of axonal blocks.

Research Group


Xavier Gasull


Within the field of neurophysiology, the group is interested in establishing the role of different ion channels implicated in shaping the excitability of sensory neurons of the dorsal root and trigeminal ganglia, and determining which alterations occur during inflammatory and neuropathic pain states. We are especially interested on ocular pain after inflammation, injury or dry eye disease. On the other hand, in trabecular cells that regulate aqueous humor flow in the eye and intraocular pressure, we are exploring the role of ion channels that regulate contraction, shape and cell volume and how this is related to the physiopathology of glaucoma.