Glenn Jr. Giesler, PhD

Professor Emeritus, Department of Neuroscience

Professor Emeritus, Department of Neuroscience


Research Summary/Interests

Somatic sensory processing, pain

Our laboratory’s major research interest is in determining the neural mechanisms responsible for conveying information about both painful and itch-producing stimuli from the spinal cord to the brain and ultimately to consciousness. Recent studies including our own indicate primary afferent neurons as well as spinal cord neurons that transmit information about itch to the brain also convey information about pain. These findings have led to an important question: what is it about these neurons that allows them to transmit information upon which two very different sensations depend? We are currently beginning to examine the responses of single thalamic and cortical neurons to both itch- and pain-producing stimuli. Itch-responsive neurons have not been examined in either of these areas of the CNS. We have also been interested in understanding the neural mechanisms that underlie the ability of scratching to relieve itch. We have found that responses to itch-producing, but not pain-producing, stimuli by spinal cord neurons that send axons to the thalamus are reduced by scratching, suggesting that scratching activates inhibitory circuits in the spinal cord to block responses to itch.


Lipshetz, B, Khasabov, SG, Truong, H, Netoff, TI, Simone, DA & Giesler, GJ Jr 2018, ‘Responses of thalamic neurons to itch- and pain-producing stimuli in rats’ J Neurophysiol, vol. 120, no. 3, pp. 1119-1134.

Khasabov, SG, Malecha, P, Noack, J, Tabakov, J, Giesler, GJ Jr & Simone, DA 2017, ‘Hyperalgesia and sensitization of dorsal horn neurons following activation of NK-1 receptors in the rostral ventromedial medulla’ J Neurophysiol, vol. 118, no. 5, pp. 2727-2744.

Lipshetz, B & Giesler, GJ Jr 2016,Effects of scratching and other counterstimuli on responses of trigeminothalamic tract neurons to itch-inducing stimuli in rats’ J Neurophysiol, vol. 115, no. 1, pp. 520-9.

Jansen, NA & Giesler, GJ Jr 2014, ‘Response characteristics of pruriceptive and nociceptive trigeminoparabrachial tract neurons in the rat’ J Neurophysiol, vol. 113, no. 1, pp. 58-70.

Davidson, S, Moser, H & Giesler, G Jr 2014, ‘Ascending Pathways for Itch. In: Carstens E, Akiyama T, editors. Itch: Mechanisms and Treatment’ Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis, Chapter 22.

Moser, HR, Giesler, GJ Jr 2014, ‘Characterization of pruriceptive trigeminothalamic tract neurons in rats’ J Neurophysiol, vol. 111, no. 8, pp. 1574-89.

Moser, HR & Giesler, GJ Jr 2013, ‘Itch and analgesia resulting from intrathecal application of morphine: contrasting effects on different populations of trigeminothalamic tract neurons’ J Neurosci, vol. 33, no. 14, pp. 6093-101.

Davidson, S, Zhang, X, Khasabov, SG, Moser, HR, Honda, CN, Simone, DA & Giesler, GJ Jr 2012, ‘Pruriceptive spinothalamic tract neurons: physiological properties andprojection targets in the primate’ J Neurophysiol, vol. 108, no. 6, pp. 1711-23.

Davidson, S & Giesler, GJ Jr 2010, ‘The multiple pathways for itch and their interactions with pain’ Trends Neurosci. vol. 33, no. 12, pp. 550-8.

Duvick, L, Barnes, J, Ebner, B, Agrawal, S, Andresen, M, Lim, J, Giesler, GJ Jr, Zoghbi, HY & Orr, HT 2010, ‘SCA1-like disease in mice expressing wild-type ataxin-1 with a serine to aspartic acid replacement at residue 776’ Neuron, vol. 67, no. 6, pp. 929-35.



NSC 6112: Medical Neuroscience