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Cough is the most common reason why sick patients visit physicians in the US. This defensive reflex is the most common manifestation of tobacco- and non-tobacco-related pulmonary diseases. Furthermore, cough suppressant (also called antitussive) drugs are among the most commonly prescribed in the world. Significant gaps exist in our understanding of how cough is produced and how this defensive reflex is inhibited by antitussive drugs. The long-range goal of research in our laboratory is to delineate the how the nervous system produces and regulates cough. We use antitussive drugs as tools to determine how the cough system is controlled. As such, our work also will expand our knowledge of the mechanisms by which these drugs inhibit cough. Our current approach incorporates the use of multiple extracellular electrode array technology to investigate the behavior of spontaneously active and recruited neurons in the brainstem during cough. Determination of the identity and functional relationships between these neurons will allow modeling of the configuration of the brainstem cough network. Perturbation of the behavior of these neurons with antitussive drugs will allow us to identify the mechanism by which cough suppressants act to inhibit this behavior.


  • –present
    Professor, University of Florida