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DBJ: University professor receives $2.8M grant for brain activity research

drawing of a brain

Excerpt from the Dayton Business Journal

A professor at one of the region’s largest universities has received a $2.8 million grant. The grant will further research brain activity in relation to the eyes.

Scott N J Watamaniuk, Ph.D., who serves as a professor of psychology at Wright State University, received a five-year grant from the National Institute of Health’s National Eye Institute to investigate how the brain coordinates the movements of the two eyes.

The research has potential implications for those who have strabismus, a condition that results in misaligned eyes.

Watamaniuk said the prevailing theory proposed by Ewald Hering in 1868 says that the brain sends a single command that moves the eyes. From the ophthalmologist’s perspective, since it is believed that the brain controls eye movement simultaneously if one eye is moving correctly but the other is not, the signal from the brain is working and there must be something else wrong with the other eye.

Mild cases of strabismus are treated by putting a patch over the eye that is functioning correctly to tone up the muscles of the misaligned eye so that it works properly. For some patients this corrects the problem, but for others that slight deviation gets progressively worse over time. In more severe cases surgery is used as a corrective measure.

Watamaniuk said that the surgical treatment of strabismus involves snipping muscle fibers to weaken them. While the surgery can initially be successful, in 40% of operations the eye goes back to where it was within six to 12 months.