Bret N. Smith, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Thomas L. Skinner Associate Professor of Physiology
Director of Graduate Studies - Physiology

Ph.D. University of Tennessee Health Science Center, 1992

Research Interests

Neuronal Interactions in the Mammalian Brain. Research in this laboratory is aimed at understanding the mechanisms underlying functional synaptic connectivity, modulation, and plasticity of neuronal systems. Using whole-cell electrophysiological techniques in acute slice preparations combined with immunochemical, histochemical, neuropharmacological, and molecular biological methods, we are conducting studies to determine how neural circuit organization and remodeling after brain injury contribute to development of epilepsy. In addition, we study how synaptic function in autonomic control centers regulate visceral sensory-motor integration. The specific areas of study are:

  1. Synaptic reorganization in the epileptic brain
    a. Synaptic organization of the hippocampus and amygdala
    b. Neuromodulation of reorganized circuits
    c. Prevention of posttraumatic epileptogenesis
  2. Synaptic organization of neurons regulating autonomic function
    a. Synaptic connectivity in the dorsal vagal complex
    b. Chemical neuromodulation of central autonomic circuits
    c. Plasticity of central autonomic circuits in disease

Select Publications

Duale, H., Hou, S., Derbenev, A.V., Smith, B.N., and Rabchevsky, A.G. (2009) Spinal cord injury reduces the efficacy of pseudorabies virus labeling of sympathetic preganglionic neuronsJ Neuropath Exp Neurol. 68:168-78.

Hunt, R.F., Scheff, S.W., and Smith, B.N. (2009) Posttraumatic epilepsy after controlled cortical impact injury in mice. Exp. Neurol. 215(2):243-52.

Zsombok, A. and Smith, B.N. (2009) Plasticity of central autonomic neural circuits in diabetes. Biochim Biophys Acta: Molecular Basis of Disease. 1792:423-431.

Derbenev, A.V., Duale, H., Rabchevsky, A.G. and Smith, B.N. (2010) Electrophyiological characteristics of identified kidney-related neurons in adult rat spinal cord slices. Neurosci Letts. 474:168-172.

Duale, H., Lyttle, T.S. and Smith B.N., Rabchevsky, A.G. (2010) Noxious colorectal distention in spinalized rats reduces pseudorabies virus labeling of sympathetic neurons. J. Neurotrauma. 27:1369-78.

Bhaskaran, M.D. and Smith, B.N. (2010) Cannabinoid modulation of excitability in the dentate gyrus of pilocarpine-treated epileptic mice. PLoS ONE. 5:e10683 (1-10).

Bhaskaran, M.D. and Smith, B.N. (2010) Effects of TRPV1 activation in the dentate gyrus of a mouse model of TLEExp. Neurol. 223:529-36.

Gao, H. and Smith, B.N. (2010) Tonic GABA-mediated inhibition in the rat dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus. J. Neurophysiol. 103:904-14.

Hunt, R.F., Scheff, S.W., and Smith, B.N. (2010) Regionally localized recurrent excitation in the dentate gyrus of a cortical contusion model of posttraumatic epilepsy. J. Neurophysiol. 103:1490-1500.


Bret N. Smith

Contact Information

MS-607 Medical Center 0298

Tel: (859) 323-4840