Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Dr Boubker Zaaimi

Research Associate


Boubker Zaaimi

Neuroscientist with extensive experience in electrophysiology and translational research


Phone                    +1-312-685-2102



I am a neuroscientist with substantial experience in designing, executing, analysing and publishing neuroscientific studies of the motor, somatosensory and autonomic systems in humans, primates and rodents. I have considerable experience of recording from cortex, brainstem and spinal cord as well as neurostimulation in acute and chronic experimental set-ups, including rodent and primate stroke models and brain-machine interfaces. I am an active team player with a breadth of experience working in multicultural environments in highly regarded laboratories across the world, as well as being actively involved in a large number of academic and corporate collaborations. Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work with highly enthusiastic researchers, clinicians, and to collaborate with industrial partners on cutting edge science projects for drug discovery and biomarker development that have infused me with passion to explore the physiological mechanisms underlying brain function.


2003 – 2007

PhD in Neurosciences “Optimization of Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) therapy parameters for the treatment of pharmaco-resistant epilepsy. Study in children and animals”, Amiens medical school, France; funded by Cyberonics; advisors: Prof. Reinhard Grebe and Dr Fabrice Wallois


MSc 2nd year – DEA Neuroscience and Cognition, Bordeaux II University, France


MSc 1st year – Maîtrise Neuroscience and Physiology, Bordeaux II University, France


BSc Cell Biology, Bordeaux II University, France



2013 - now          

Postdoctoral Fellow, Newcastle University; advisor: Prof. Stuart Baker

  • Pioneered slice recordings from primate spinal cord.
  • Chronic recording and stimulation in primate brainstem using multi-site linear electrodes (U-probes Plexon).
  • Contributed to development of wearable data loggers for macaques, capable of recording multiple channels of neurophysiological signals during natural animal behaviour in home cage.
  • Successful industrial drug development collaboration with Autifony Therapeutics – preclinical validation in primates of a biomarker to detect drug-induced changes in cortical oscillations before implementation in clinical studies on patients.

2012 – 2013

Postdoctoral Fellow, City College, New York; advisor: Prof. Jack Martin

  • Demonstrated contribution of sensory afferents in post-stroke spinal cord plasticity.
  • Evaluated concomitant stimulation of descending and ascending inputs to spinal cord as a post-stroke therapy.

2010 – 2012

Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University, Chicago; advisor: Prof. Lee Miller

  • Chronic recording and stimulation through multi-contacts arrays.
  • Experience in brain machine interfaces and proprioception.
  • Collaboration to DARPA’s funded multi-disciplinary project, with regular reports.

2007 - 2010  

Postdoctoral Fellow, Newcastle University; advisor: Prof. Stuart Baker

  • Developed a primate model of stroke using unilateral pyramidal lesions.
  • Carried out intra- and extracellular recordings from cortex, brainstem, and spinal cord in a primate stroke model – work which is not currently done in any other centre.
  • A major publication in Brain.

Other External Collaborations

Throughout my career I have initiated and maintained external collaborations with clinicians:

  • With Dr Ming Lai (Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, UK), I have developed a statistical analysis of EEG/ECG recordings from patients with depression and/or epilepsy.
  • Collaboration with Dr James Stinear from Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago on the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation in a primate stroke model.
  • I helped pioneer a clinical test for upper motor neuron dysfunction in motor neuron disease with Dr Mark Baker (Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, UK).

 Presentations to Learned Societies

12 presentations to learned societies, including 9 at international meetings (Society For Neuroscience, American Epilepsy Society, Federation of European Neuroscience, Neural Control of Movement) and 3 oral presentations at conferences.


As a senior postdoctoral fellow I provided help to PhD and master students in the UK and the US so they can securely acquire the needed techniques to train and record from animals. I regularly assist them in data analysis.



  • French, British and US authorisation for animal experimentation
  • Extensive experience in animal husbandry of rodents and primates
  • Acute (terminal) and chronic (long-term) experiments
  • Sedation, anaesthesia, monitoring, asepsis, surgery
  • Training, behavioural assessment


  • In-depth knowledge of standard data acquisition systems (Blackrock, Cambridge Electronic Devices, Intan)
  • In vivo intra- and extracellular single-unit and local field potentials recordings from cortex, brainstem and spinal cord of primates
  • In vitro recordings from primate brain slices
  • Implantation of Utah array, linear multi-contact arrays and subcutaneous EMG electrodes
  • Brain-machine interfaces


  • Extensive experience in signal processing including spike discrimination, time and frequency domain analysis
  • Development and implementation of statistical analyses


  • Independent development of analysis pipelines (Matlab) and behavioural tasks (Delphi, National Instruments NI-DAQ)


  • Microstimulation of cortex and reticular formation
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Vestibular stimulation and startle response
  • Implantation of stimulating electrodes into pyramidal tract, cerebral peduncle and medial longitudinal fasciculus
  • Peripheral nerve stimulation, vibration and stretch reflex
  • Plasticity paradigms


  • Selective lesioning, including radiofrequency lesions of unilateral pyramidal tract under stereotactic guidance


  • Tracer injections
  • Histology, immunocytochemistry

Team work

  • Oversight of projects and day-to-day management (e.g. during overnight recordings, monkey training)
  • Frequent assistance provided to PhD students and junior postdocs


  • English: fluent
  • French and Arabic: native


Peer-reviewed Publications (h-index 11) My Google Scholar


Jiang YQ, Zaaimi B, Martin JH. Competition with primary sensory afferents drives remodeling of corticospinal axons in mature spinal motor circuits. J Neurosci 36: 193-203. Citations: 6.


Baker SN, Zaaimi B, Fisher KM, Edgley SA, Soteropoulos DS. Pathways mediating functional recovery. Prog Brain Res 218:389-412. Citations: 6.


Zaaimi B, Ruiz-Torres R, Solla SA, Miller LE. Multi-electrode stimulation in somatosensory cortex increases probability of detection. J Neural Eng 10:056013. Citations: 19.


Zaaimi B, Edgley SA, Soteropoulos DS, Baker SN. Changes in descending motor pathway connectivity after corticospinal tract lesion in macaque monkey. Brain 135:2277-2289. Citations: 103.

Fisher KM, Zaaimi B, Williams TL, Baker SN, Baker MR. Beta-band intermuscular coherence: a novel biomarker of upper motor neuron dysfunction in motor neuron disease. Brain 135:2849-2864. Citations: 27.

Fisher KM, Zaaimi B, Baker SN. Reticular formation responses to magnetic brain stimulation of primary motor cortex. J Physiol 590:4045-4060. Citations: 28.


Weber DJ, London BM, Hokanson JA, Ayers CA, Gaunt RA, Torres RR, Zaaimi B, Miller LE. Limb-state information encoded by peripheral and central somatosensory neurons: implications for an afferent interface. IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng 19:501-513. Citations: 53.


Roche-Labarbe N, Zaaimi B, Mahmoudzadeh M, Osharina V, Wallois A, Nehlig A, Grebe R, Wallois F. NIRS-measured oxy- and deoxyhemoglobin changes associated with EEG spike-and-wave discharges in a genetic model of absence epilepsy: the GAERS. Epilepsia 51:1374-1384. Citations: 21.


Zaaimi B, Grebe R, Berquin P, Wallois F. Vagus nerve stimulation induces changes in respiratory sinus arrhythmia of epileptic children during sleep. Epilepsia 50:2473-2480. Citations: 21.


Roche-Labarbe N, Zaaimi B, Berquin P, Nehlig A, Grebe R, Wallois F. NIRS-measured oxy- and deoxyhemoglobin changes associated with EEG spike-and-wave discharges in children. Epilepsia 49:1871-1880. Citations: 71.

Zaaimi B, Grebe R, Wallois F. Animal model of the short-term cardiorespiratory effects of intermittent vagus nerve stimulation. Auton Neurosci 143:20-26. Citations: 7.


Zaaimi B, Grebe R, Berquin P, Wallois F. Vagus nerve stimulation therapy induces changes in heart rate of children during sleep. Epilepsia 48:923-930. Citations: 15.


Pruvost M, Zaaimi B, Grebe R, Wallois F, Berquin P, Perlitz V. Cardiorespiratory effects induced by vagus nerve stimulation in epileptic children. Med Biol Eng Comput 44:338-347. Citations: 11.


Zaaimi B, Heberle C, Berquin P, Pruvost M, Grebe R, Wallois F. 2005. Vagus nerve stimulation induces concomitant respiratory alterations and a decrease in SaO2 in children. Epilepsia 46:1802-1809. Citations: 28.