Researcher Spotlight: Dr. Annaelle Devergnas

Dr. Annaelle Devergnas is an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurology of Emory University and works at the Yerkes National Primate Center. She is an electrophysiologist with additional training in cognitive neurology. She obtained her PhD in France under the direction of Pr AL Benabid. During her PhD, she studied the implication of the basal ganglia in focal motor seizure on a non-human primate model. In 2009, she joined Pr. T Wichmann lab at Emory University to study the relationship between oscillatory activity and parkinsonism in a progressive model of MPTP treated monkeys. After her postdoc, she became the director of the Neuromodulation lab at Yerkes in 2016. Her lab focuses on electrophysiological pathway of seizures and new treatment for epilepsy. She developed Non-human primate model of on demand neocortical seizures and temporal lobe seizures. Her lab is currently testing the effect of asynchronous stimulation for temporal lobe seizures (Brain initiative grant). She also got a pilot grant to study the implication of the thalamo-cortical loop in the control of neocortical seizures. While the focus of her lab is centered on seizures mechanisms, they recently developed an interest in comorbidity of seizures. Thus, they started studying memory and sleep disorder associated with seizures. They are interested in perturbation of sleep (nocturnal and diurnal) after induction of seizures. To this aims they use a telemetry system to record EEG activity of the animals in their own cages.  

What do you enjoy most about Emory?

My favorite part about Emory is the opportunity for collaboration and the ability to work with others.

How does your research relate to sleep?

My laboratory researches sleep as a comorbidity of epilepsy. The primate model we use has five stages of sleep and the same sleep cycles as humans. We monitor the primates with EEG and video recordings overnight to determine how seizures effect sleep.

What is your most significant research accomplishment related to sleep?

We recently found that monkeys with epilepsy have a decrease in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which also occurs in humans with epilepsy. 

What are the implications of your research on the field of sleep research?

The implications of my work on the field of sleep research are that non-human primates are relevant models to use for sleep and epilepsy research because they are diurnal and mimic sleep cycles of humans.