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Santosh Helekar, MD, PhD

Associate Professor of Neurology, Institute for Academic Medicine
Associate Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist
Weill Cornell Medical College


Dr. Santosh A. Helekar earned his medical degree (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) from the University of Bombay in 1982. He earned a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Baylor College of Medicine. He held faculty appointments in the Departments of Neurology and Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Neurology at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute and Weill Medical College of Cornell University before rejoining as an associate member of The Methodist Hospital Research Institute in 2007. Dr. Helekar also holds adjunct faculty appointments in the Department of Neuroscience at Baylor College of Medicine and the Department of Biology at Texas A & M University. As a member of the Research Institute Neurosciences Research Program, he directs the Songbird Neurophysiology Laboratory in the Speech and Language Center of the Department of Neurology to study songbird models of stuttering and other speech problems. He also collaborates with other members of the Research Institute on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies of neurological conditions. Dr. Helekar has been a member of the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Defense and Alzheimer's Association grant review boards. He has also been a reviewer for several international research foundations and scientific journals in his field. He serves on the editorial board of The Open Zoology Journal.

Description of Research

Dr. Helekar's research program focuses on developing and studying songbird models of speech disorders and developmental learning disabilities, how the brain encodes vocal sounds, and the neural basis of vocal learning and plasticity. His current experiments involve brain functional magnetic resonance imaging, diffusion tensor imaging and local field potential recordings, and long-term computerized monitoring of birdsong learning and proteomics of sensorimotor brain structures. He is also interested in quantitative analysis of functional brain networks to study how conscious behavior is orchestrated by the brain, and how these networks might be altered in patients with cognitive deficits.

Areas Of Expertise

Vocal learning Speech and language disorders fMRI Conscious perception Neurophysiology
Education & Training

, Baylor College of Medicine

Transcranial Brain Stimulation with Rapidly Spinning High-Field Permanent Magnets
Helekar, SA & Voss, HU 2016, IEEE Access, vol 4, 7473846, pp. 2520-2528. DOI:

Helekar, SA 2013, Unknown Journal, pp. v-vii. DOI:

Animal models of speech and language disorders
Helekar, SA 2013, . Springer New York. DOI:

Stuttered birdsong
Helekar, SA, Salgado-Commissariat, D, Rosenfield, DB & Voss, HU 2013, . in Animal Models of Speech and Language Disorders. Springer New York, pp. 185-208. DOI:

Altered auditory BOLD response to conspecific birdsong in zebra finches with stuttered syllables
Voss, HU, Salgado-Commissariat, D & Helekar, SA 2010, PLoS ONE, vol 5, no. 12, e14415. DOI:

Functional brain network changes associated with maintenance of cognitive function in multiple sclerosis
Helekar, SA, Shin, JC, Mattson, BJ, Bartley, K, Stosic, M, Saldana-King, T, Read Montague, P & Hutton, GJ 2010, . in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. vol. 4. DOI:

The development of stimulus-specific auditory responses requires song exposure in male but not female zebra finches
Maul, KK, Voss, HU, Parra, LC, Salgado-Commissariat, D, Ballon, D, Tchernichovski, O & Helekar, SA 2010, Developmental Neurobiology, vol 70, no. 1, pp. 28-40. DOI:

Proteomics of the nucleus ovoidalis and field L brain regions of zebra finch
Benjamin, A, Kashem, M, Cohen, C, Caldwell Busby, JA, Salgado-Commissariat, D, Helekar, SA & Bhattacharya, SK 2008, Journal of Proteome Research, vol 7, no. 5, pp. 2121-2132. DOI:

Functional MRI of the zebra finch brain during song stimulation suggests a lateralized response topography
Voss, HU, Tabelow, K, Polzehl, J, Tchernichovski, O, Maul, KK, Salgado-Commissariat, D, Ballon, D & Helekar, SA 2007, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 104, no. 25, pp. 10667-10672. DOI:

Nicotine-mediated plasticity in robust nucleus of the archistriatum of the adult zebra finch
Salgado-Commissariat, D, Rosenfield, DB & Helekar, SA 2004, Brain Research, vol 1018, no. 1, pp. 97-105. DOI:

Modulation of ?/a frequency profiles of slow auditory-evoked responses in the songbird zebra finch
Espino, GG, Lewis, C, Rosenfield, DB & Helekar, SA 2003, Neuroscience, vol 122, no. 2, pp. 521-529. DOI:

Development and adult phase plasticity of syllable repetitions in the birdsong of captive zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata)
Helekar, SA, Espino, GG, Botas, A & Rosenfield, DB 2003, Behavioral Neuroscience, vol 117, no. 5, pp. 939-951. DOI:

Reduction of female-directed song motifs induced by repeated singing in laboratory-bred zebra finches
Botas, A, Espino, G, Rosenfield, DB & Helekar, SA 2001, Neuroscience Letters, vol 297, no. 3, pp. 203-206. DOI:

Acoustic pattern variations in the female-directed birdsongs of a colony of laboratory-bred zebra finches
Helekar, SA, Marsh, S, Viswanath, NS & Rosenfield, DB 2000, Behavioural Processes, vol 49, no. 2, pp. 99-110. DOI:

On the Possibility of Universal Neural Coding of Subjective Experience
Helekar, SA 1999, Consciousness and Cognition, vol 8, no. 4, pp. 423-446. DOI:

Suppression of drug-induced epileptiform discharges by cyclic AMP in rat hippocampus
Apland, JP, Helekar, SA & Lebeda, FJ 1997, Molecular and Chemical Neuropathology, vol 31, no. 3, pp. 265-278.

Peptidyl prolyl cis-trans isomerase activity of cyclophilin A in functional homo-oligomeric receptor expression
Helekar, SA & Patrick, J 1997, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, vol 94, no. 10, pp. 5432-5437. DOI:

Prolyl isomerase requirement for the expression of functional homo-oligomeric ligand-gated ion channels
Helekar, SA, Char, D, Neff, S & Patrick, J 1994, Neuron, vol 12, no. 1, pp. 179-189.

Analysis of voltage-gated and synaptic conductances contributing to network excitability defects in the mutant mouse tottering
Helekar, SA & Noebels, JL 1994, Journal of Neurophysiology, vol 71, no. 1, pp. 1-10.

A burst-dependent hippocampal excitability defect elicited by potassium at the developmental onset of spike-wave seizures in the Tottering mutant
Helekar, SA & Noebels, JL 1992, Developmental Brain Research, vol 65, no. 2, pp. 205-210.