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cohena [at]
Location - People View
Room 816H

3615 Civic Center Blvd
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Research Topics
Akiva S. Cohen, PhD
Akiva S. Cohen

Dr. Cohen's laboratory focuses on how traumatic brain injury alters hippocampal and cortical circuitry, thereby causing cognitive impairment.



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Dr. Cohen’s main research interest focuses on understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie cognitive impairments associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI). In particular, he investigates alterations in neuronal excitability in the limbic system of the brain. This system has been shown to play a primary role in higher cognitive function (e.g. learning and memory) and is damaged in TBI. Dr. Cohen and his team recently found that alterations in glial and neuronal cellular metabolism can contribute to regional shifts in hippocampal network excitability.

Dr. Cohen’s lab uses a variety of techniques to understand the nature and functional consequences of injury-induced alterations. His studies involve contextual fear-conditioning as a behavioral means to assess cognitive impairments and extracellular field potential recording to evaluate the functional status of the injured hippocampus. His team also uses unbiased stereology to quantify the degree of cell death. Single-cell recording techniques are used to probe the changes to both excitatory and inhibitory synaptic transmission following injury.

In addition, Dr. Cohen’s lab uses biochemical methods to examine specific proteins that have been altered by injury and may be underlying synaptic and/or circuit dysfunction. High-pressure liquid chromatography and gas chromatography mass spectrophotometry allow Dr. Cohen to quantitate and examine alterations in glial and neuronal metabolic pathways. The combination of these methodologies should help elucidate putative mechanisms causing injury-induced cognitive deficits. A better understanding of these injury-induced alterations will provide insight for directing the development of potential therapies that aim to ameliorate cognitive dysfunction in patients who have suffered TBI.

Education and Training

BS, University of Maryland College Park (Microbiology), 1985

MS, University of Maryland College Park (Zoology), 1989

PhD, University of Maryland School of Medicine (Biophysics), 1994

Fellowship, University of Otago, New Zealand (Psychology), 1996

Titles and Academic Titles


Research Professor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care

Professional Memberships

Society for Neuroscience

American Physiological Society

American Epilepsy Society

American Association for the Advancement of Science

National Neurotrauma Society

International Brain Research Organization

Professional Awards

Research Training Fellowship, Epilepsy Foundation of America, 1998

Florence R.C. Murray Fellowship, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute, 1999

NIH MERIT Award, 2014

Publication Highlights

Links of Interest