Department of Neurobiology
Omar A. Gharbawie
Assistant Professor
Department of Neurobiology
Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition
University of Pittsburgh
4069 BST3
   3501 Fifth Ave, STE 4069
   Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3301
Telephone: 412-383-9813

Organization of cortical areas that control prehension in non-human primates

Our seamless ability to manipulate objects with our hands reflects the sophistication of our sensorimotor system. My laboratory studies the functional organization of cortical areas that support manual dexterity. The overarching questions of my research program include: (1) How do frontal and parietal areas of cortex encode grasping? (2) What are the organizational principles that confer on those areas their role in grasping?

My lab uses optical imaging in awake behaving monkeys to localize cortical zones involved in grasping. The resultant maps of activation guide our placement of microelectrodes and linear electrode arrays for electrophysiological recordings. We exploit this technique to determine the actions and sensations that individual neurons encode. In addition, we characterize the flow of information across layers of cortex and between cortical zones. We use the same multi-pronged approach and neuroanatomical methods to characterize the cortical connections that support grasping.

My laboratory has multiple training opportunities. Prospective postdocs and graduate students are encouraged to contact me directly.

Sample Publications:

The origins of thalamic inputs to grasp zones in frontal cortex of macaque monkeys.
Gharbawie OA, Stepniewska I, Kaas JH.
Brain Struct Funct. 2016 Jul;221(6):3123-40.

Cortical neuron response properties are related to lesion extent and behavioral recovery after sensory loss from spinal cord injury in monkeys.
Qi HX, Reed JL, Gharbawie OA, Burish MJ, Kaas JH.
J Neurosci. 2014 Mar 19;34(12):4345-63.

Effects of muscimol inactivations of functional domains in motor, premotor, and posterior parietal cortex on complex movements evoked by electrical stimulation.
Stepniewska I, Gharbawie OA, Burish MJ, Kaas JH.
J Neurophysiol. 2014 Mar;111(5):1100-19. doi: 10.1152/jn.00491.2013.

Cortical connections to single digit representations in area 3b of somatosensory cortex in squirrel monkeys and prosimian galagos.
Liao CC, Gharbawie OA, Qi H, Kaas JH.
J Comp Neurol. 2013 Nov;521(16):3768-90.

Multiple parietal-frontal pathways mediate grasping in macaque monkeys.
Gharbawie OA, Stepniewska I, Qi H, Kaas JH.
J Neurosci. 2011 Aug 10;31(32):11660-77.

Cortical connections of functional zones in posterior parietal cortex and frontal cortex motor regions in new world monkeys.
Gharbawie OA, Stepniewska I, Kaas JH.
Cereb Cortex. 2011 Sep;21(9):1981-2002.

Optical imaging in galagos reveals parietal-frontal circuits underlying motor behavior.
Stepniewska I, Friedman RM, Gharbawie OA, Cerkevich CM, Roe AW, Kaas JH.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Sep 13;108(37):E725-32.


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