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 questions across federally funded through the Clinical and Translational Collaborative of Cleveland and several Private Foundation Research grants.

Publications (Select)

Entire publication list can be found here.

  • Potter-Baker KA, Lin Y-L, Machado AG, Conforto AB, Cunningham DA, Sankarasubramanian V, Sakaie K, Plow EBVariability of motor evoked potentials in stroke explained by corticospinal pathway integrity. Brain Stimul. 2018 Aug;11(4):929–931. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2018.03.004 Pubmed PMID: 29563050
  • Potter-Baker KA, Lin Y-L, Plow EBUnderstanding cortical topographical changes in liminally contractable muscles in SCI: importance of all mechanisms of neural dysfunction. Spinal Cord. 2017 Sep;55(9):882–884. doi: 10.1038/sc.2017.72 Pubmed PMID: 28607523
  • Potter-Baker KA, Janini DP, Lin Y-L, Sankarasubramanian V, Cunningham DA, Varnerin NM, Chabra P, Kilgore KL, Richmond MA, Frost FS, Plow EBTranscranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) Paired with massed practice training to promote adaptive plasticity and motor recovery in chronic incomplete tetraplegia: a pilot study. J Spinal Cord Med. 2017 Aug 7;1–15. doi: 10.1080/10790268.2017.1361562 Pubmed PMID: 28784042
  • Plow EB, Sankarasubramanian V, Potter-Baker KA, Lin Y-L. Reply to “Need for updating safety recommendations on repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in stroke patients”. Clin Neurophysiol. 2017 Aug;128(8):1544–1545. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2017.05.014 Pubmed PMID: 28662931
  • Sankarasubramanian V, Machado AG, Conforto AB, Potter-Baker KA, Cunningham DA, Varnerin NM, Wang X, Sakaie K, Plow EB.Inhibition versus facilitation of contralesional motor cortices in stroke: Deriving a model to tailor brain stimulation. Clin Neurophysiol. 2017 Jun;128(6):892-902. doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2017.03.030. Epub 2017 Mar 21. PubMed PMID: 28402865.
  • Varnerin N, Mirando D, Potter-Baker KA, Cardenas J, Cunningham DA, Sankarasubramanian V, Beall E, Plow EBAssessment of Vascular Stent Heating with Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2017 May;26(5):1121-1127. doi:10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2016.12.030. Epub 2017 Jan 20. PubMed PMID: 28117211.
  • Lempka SF, Malone DA, Hu B, Baker KB, Wyant A, Ozinga J, Plow EB, Pandya M, Kubu CS, Ford PJ, Machado AG. Randomized clinical trial of deep brain stimulation for post-stroke pain. Ann Neurol. 2017 Apr 5. doi: 10.1002/ana.24927. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28380672.
  • Sankarasubramanian V, Cunningham DA, Potter-Baker KA, Beall EB, Roelle SM, Varnerin NM, Machado AG, Jones SE, Lowe MJ, Plow EBTranscranial Direct Current Stimulation Targeting Primary Motor Versus Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortices: Proof-of-Concept Study Investigating Functional Connectivity of Thalamocortical Networks Specific to Sensory-Affective Information Processing. Brain Connect. 2017 Apr;7(3):182-196. doi: 10.1089/brain.2016.0440. PubMed PMID: 28142257; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5399740.
  • Cunningham DA, Roelle SM, Allexandre D, Potter-Baker KA, Sankarasubramanian V, Knutson JS, Yue GH, Machado AG, Plow EB.The effect of motor overflow on bimanual asymmetric force coordination. Exp Brain Res. 2017 Apr;235(4):1097-1105. doi: 10.1007/s00221-016-4867-2. Epub 2017 Jan 16. PubMed PMID: 28091708; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5350018.
  • Battelli L, Grossman ED, Plow EBLocal Immediate versus Long-Range Delayed Changes in Functional Connectivity Following rTMS on the Visual Attention Network. Brain Stimul. 2017 Mar – Apr;10(2):263-269. doi: 10.1016/j.brs.2016.10.009. Epub 2016 Oct 19. PubMed PMID: 27838275; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5316353.
  • Potter-Baker KA, Janini DP, Frost FS, Chabra P, Varnerin N, Cunningham DA, Sankarasubramanian V, Plow EBReliability of TMS metrics in patients with chronic incomplete spinal cord injury. Spinal Cord. 2016 Nov;54(11):980-990. doi: 10.1038/sc.2016.47. Epub 2016 Apr 5. PubMed PMID: 27045553.
  • Zhang X, Plow E, Ranganthan V, Huang H, Schmitt M, Nemunaitis G, Kelly C, Frost F, Lin V. Functional Magnetic Stimulation of Inspiratory and Expiratory Muscles in Subjects With Tetraplegia. PM R. 2016 Jul;8(7):651-9. doi: 10.1016/j.pmrj.2016.01.016. Epub 2016 Mar 9. PubMed PMID: 26968608.
  • Cunningham DA, Janini D, Wyant A, Bonnett C, Varnerin N, Sankarasubramanian V, Potter-Baker KA, Roelle S, Wang X, Siemionow V, Yue GH, Plow EB. Post-exercise depression following submaximal and maximal isometric voluntary contraction. Neuroscience. 2016 Jun 21;326:95-104. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.03.060. Epub 2016 Apr 4. PubMed PMID: 27058145.
  • Potter-Baker KA, Varnerin NM, Cunningham DA, Roelle SM, Sankarasubramanian V, Bonnett CE, Machado AG, Conforto AB, Sakaie K, Plow EB. Influence of Corticospinal Tracts from Higher Order Motor Cortices on Recruitment Curve Properties in Stroke. Front Neurosci. 2016 Mar 8;10:79. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2016.00079. eCollection 2016. PubMed PMID: 27013942; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4781847.
  • Potter-Baker KA, Bonnett CE, Chabra P, Roelle S, Varnerin N, Cunningham DA, Sankarasubramanian V, Pundik S, Conforto AB, Machado AG, Plow EBChallenges 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 EBA 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 EBTailoring 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 EBReproducibility 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.


Cleveland FES Center

Assistant Professor, Lerner College of Medicine
Cleveland Clinic

Investigator, Advanced Platform Technology Center
Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center

Staff, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Neurological Institute
Cleveland Clinic

Assistant Staff, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Lerner Research Institute
Cleveland Clinic

Staff, Center for Neurological Restoration, Neurological institute
Cleveland Clinic

University Graduate Faculty, Dept. of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
Cleveland State University


Program Contact
Ela Plow

Contact Number
(216) 844-3194

Contact Email