Louisville Magazine

AUG 2013

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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extended fndings in schizophrenia and also found minicolumn changes in Alzheimer's and aging brains. It all seemed to suggest the central role of this architecture in brain health. But where the problem lies, Casanova theorized, also suggests a potential solution: All he had to do was juice the inhibitory cells in the shower curtain to work harder. His frst thought was a pharmaceutical approach, but most drugs capable of increasing inhibition, such as anticonvulsant medications, wouldn't help. Tey're simply too sloppy, stimulating inhibitory cells of every type, all over the brain. "So the end efect would be a person who didn't exhibit autism, but who would also be stupid or comatose," Casanova says. As he thought about the problem, he realized the solution was right there in his fndings. "I saw something that attracted my attention, and I think it's precious. It's the geometrical arrangement of these cells," he says. "Tey are all organized very perpendicular to the cortex. It's a very nice arrangement." It reminded him of Faraday's Law and the 62 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.13 way electricity is generated. Any electrical conductor at 90 degrees to a magnetic feld that is fipping upon itself could induce a voltage, he recalled, just as you can move a magnet in and out of a metal coil and create electricity. Neurons are conductors. Tey don't conduct electrons, but use ions — electrically charged particles of sodium and potassium — to conduct current along the long, skinny neuronal arms that carry signals to neighboring neurons. Te minicolumn pine-tree-to-the-sunlight arrangement put them in an ideal position for magnetic induction. If the magnetic waves were at a very low frequency, Casanova thought, he could selectively induce just the inhibitor cells, thus restoring function to the shower curtain. Although such a magnetic feld would penetrate only about an inch into someone's head, the minicolumns' all-for-one fring meant that whatever happened in the brain's top layer would immediately afect the whole column, with cascading results in every other location in the brain where the minicolumns had connections. Now that he had the idea, Casanova Having completed her weekly rTMS treatment, Augusta engages in a neurofeedback test that matches video-image size with her level of concentration. had only one more barrier: He didn't have a dime to see if the idea would work. He tried to raise money through the traditional avenues, looking for grants and talking to potential collaborators, all without success. Ten he thought of Tato Sokhadze across the concrete plaza. "Tato has been a blessing in my life. He is the man who can make dreams come true," Casanova says. Electrical signals in the brain and rTMS are Sokhadze's area of expertise. He had been working with rTMS in addiction, among other projects. And he was ready to collaborate with Casanova. Now that he had a willing collaborator, Casanova — not for the frst time in his scientifc career — turned to the one source of funds over which he had some control: his own wallet. Continued on page 150

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