Plow, Ela, PhD

Ela Plow 2Research Statement

My laboratory’s research interests broadly include brain stimulation, motor control, neuroimaging, clinical neuroscience and rehabilitation. We have, thus far, focused on utilizing functional neuroimaging to discern substrates of movement control and movement relearning-related plasticity in the healthy vs. post-stroke brain to draw upon their significance for rehabilitation. Furthermore, using noninvasive brain stimulation, including transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), we have explored ways to harness plasticity within implicated substrates to promote recovery in stoke.

Currently, we have expanded our research portfolio to include:

  • Understanding of normal aging- and disease-related neurodegenerative markers, particularly those affecting motor networks of the brain associated with movement dysfunction, using TMS
  • Modifying activity of motor networks to “stall” or alleviate neurodegenerative effects, in turn improving movement control with rehabilitation and training
  • Investigating whether neural substrates associated with training and rehabilitation can be modified adaptively using neuromodulation to supplement therapeutic benefit

We are addressing these themes across federally funded clinical trials, as well as projects sponsored by the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative of Cleveland and by industry. Specifically, studies in the laboratory include investigating neural substrates of neuromodulatory rehabilitation in motor recovery and sensory re-education after stroke, neuromodulation to re-establish memory in paralyzed muscles in spinal cord injury, aging- and training-related neural markers of strength in the elderly, and neurodegenerative markers of chemotherapy-induced fatigue in cancer.

Professional Affiliations

  • Investigator, Cleveland FES Center
  • Assistant Professor, Lerner College of Medicine, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH
  • Investigator, Advanced Platform Technology Center, VA Center of Excellence, Cleveland, OH
  • Assistant Staff, Cleveland Clinic, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland, OH
  • Staff, Cleveland Clinic, Center for Neurological Restoration, Neurological institute, Cleveland, OH
  • Staff, Cleveland Clinic, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Neurological Institute, Cleveland, OH
  • University Graduate Faculty, Cleveland State University, Dept. of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Cleveland, OH

Publications (Select)

  • Potter-Baker KA, Bonnett CE, Chabra P, Roelle S, Varnerin N, Cunningham DA, Sankarasubramanian V, Pundik S, Conforto AB, Machado AG, Plow EB. Challenges in Recruitment for the Study of Noninvasive Brain Stimulation in Stroke: Lessons from Deep Brain Stimulation. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2016 Feb 2. pii: S1052-3057(16)00011-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2015.12.044. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26851211.
  • Gopalakrishnan R, Burgess RC, Plow EB, Floden DP, Machado AG. Early event related fields during visually evoked pain anticipation. Clin Neurophysiol. 2015  Dec 5. pii: S1388-2457(15)01121-9. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2015.11.019. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26733321.
  • Potter-Baker KA, Bonnett CE, Chabra P, Roelle S, Varnerin N, Cunningham DA, Sankarasubramanian V, Pundik S, Conforto AB, Machado A, Plow EB. A game of hide and seek: Is it possible to recruit more patients for NIBS studies in stroke? J Neurol Sci. 2015 Nov 15;358(1-2):472-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jns.2015.08.030. Epub 2015 Aug 21. PubMed PMID: 26320611; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4629798.
  • Cunningham DA, Potter-Baker KA, Knutson JS, Sankarasubramanian V, Machado AG,  Plow EB. Tailoring Brain Stimulation to the Nature of Rehabilitative Therapies in Stroke: A Conceptual Framework Based on their Unique Mechanisms of Recovery. Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 2015 Nov;26(4):759-74. doi: 10.1016/j.pmr.2015.07.001. Epub 2015 Sep 9. Review. PubMed PMID: 26522911; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4630680.
  • Cunningham DA, Varnerin N, Machado A, Bonnett C, Janini D, Roelle S, Potter-Baker K, Sankarasubramanian V, Wang X, Yue G, Plow EB. Stimulation targeting higher motor areas in stroke rehabilitation: A proof-of-concept, randomized, double-blinded placebo-controlled study of effectiveness and underlying mechanisms. Restor Neurol Neurosci. 2015 Oct 20;33(6):911-26. doi: 10.3233/RNN-150574. PubMed PMID: 26484700; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4732280.
  • Sankarasubramanian V, Roelle SM, Bonnett CE, Janini D, Varnerin NM, Cunningham DA, Sharma JS, Potter-Baker KA, Wang X, Yue GH, Plow EB. Reproducibility of transcranial magnetic stimulation metrics in the study of proximal upper limb muscles. J Electromyogr Kinesiol. 2015 Jun 14. pii: S1050-6411(15)00114-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jelekin.2015.05.006.
  • Cunningham DA, Machado A, Janini D, Varnerin N, Bonnett C, Yue GH, Jones SE, Lowe MJ, Beall E, Sakaie K, Plow EB (2014). Assessment of inter-hemispheric imbalance using imaging and noninvasive brain stimulation in patients with chronic stroke. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Sep 3. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2014.07.419
  • Plow EB, Cunningham DA, Varnerin N, Machado A (2014). Rethinking stimulation of brain in stroke rehabilitation:  Why higher-motor areas might be better alternatives for patients with greater impairments. Neuroscientist. Jun 20. pii: 1073858414537381.
  •  Plow EB and Fehlings MG (2014). [invited] Hypoxic locomotor rehabilitation for incomplete spinal cord injury: Not an oxymoron. Neurology 82(2): 98-99.
  • Plow EB, Cunningham DA, Bonnett C, Gohar D, Bayram M, Wyant A, Varnerin N, Mamone B, Siemionow V, Hou J, Machado A, Yue GH (2013). Neurophysiologic Correlates of Aging-Related Muscle Weakness. Journal of Neurophysiology 110(11): 2563-2573. PMCID: PMC3882769
  • Plow EB and Carey JR (2012). Pilot fMRI Investigation of Representational Plasticity associated with Motor Skill Learning and its Functional Consequences. Brain Imaging and Behavior. 6(3):437-53. PMCID: PMC3650030.
  • Plow EB, Obretenova SN, Fregni F, Pascual-Leone A, Merabet LB (2012). Comparison of visual field training for hemianopia with active versus sham transcranial direct cortical stimulation. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair 26 (6): 616-626.
  • Plow EB, Arora P, Pline MA, Binenstock MT, Carey JR (2010). Within-limb Somatotopy in Primary Motor Cortex- revealed using fMRI. Cortex. 46(3): 310-321.
  • Plow EB, Carey JR, Nudo RN, Pascual-Leone A (2009). Invasive Cortical Stimulation to Promote Recovery of Function After Stroke: A Critical Appraisal. Stroke. 40(5); 1926-1931.
  • Bhatt E, Nagpal A, Greer KH, Grunewald T, Steele JL, Wiemiller JW, Lewis SM, Carey JR (2007). Effect of Finger Tracking Combined with Electrical Stimulation on Brain Reorganization and Hand Function in Subjects with Stroke. Experimental Brain Research 182(4) 435-447.


Contact Information

Contact Name: Ela Plow
Contact Number: (216) 844-3194
Contact Email: