A permenent device for deep brain stimulation (green with yellow tip) is implanted deep in the brains of Parkinson's disease patients. (Credit: Coralie de Hemptinne, UCSF)
There are hundreds of brain diseases and disorders, ranging from developmental disorders such as dyslexia and autism to traumatic brain injuries and addiction; from psychiatric disorders such a bipolar and schizophrenia to neurological and degenerative disorders such as epilepsy, stroke, dementia and multiple sclerosis to cancer. Together, they pose an enormous burden for society and the healthcare system. Indeed, many of them are still impossible to prevent, treat or cure.
This burden was recognized by President Obama when he launched the U.S. Brain Research Through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative (See "Brain Initiative") in 2013. The goal is to develop powerful new brain research tools that will help scientists understand how normal brain function and how this breaks down, and ultimately lead to much-needed treatments. Some of these new tools are already here. Advances in genetics allow us to pinpoint the genetic glitches that cause certain disorders, and engineers have created implantable devices that stimulate the brain and alleviate symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and depression. And connections are increasing between psychiatry, and clinical and basic neuroscience, which is likely to accelerate progress toward better treatment and management of brain diseases and disorders in the coming decades.
Nora D. Volkow (National Institute of Drug Abuse), Eric Nestler (Friedman Brain Institute), and Marina Picciotto (Yale University) discuss the biology of addiction and prospects for improved pharmacological treatments.
Nora D. Volkow, Kim Janda, Eric Nestler, and Amir Levine discuss how addiction changes the very fabric of the brain, and what new insights could mean for addicts trying to win back their lives, in this webcast recorded at the World Science Festival.
Eiman Azim, Columbia University's Kavli Institute for Brain Science, discusses recent findings about excitatory neurons needed to make accurate and precise movements, and a second group is inhibitory neurons necessary for achieving smooth movement of the limbs.
For most of us, a declining memory is a normal consequence of growing old. But why? What’s happening in the brain that causes age-related memory decline, and is there anything we can do to slow this decline?
How does the brain gather information from the outside world and use it to guide behavior? Three neuroscientists who have spent much of their research careers trying to answer that question were awarded the 2012 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience.
A new study of remarkable size and scope offers clues to how the human brain develops, from its early stages into old age. The landmark research found that gene expression in the human brain is exquisitely choreographed across developmental periods and brain regions.
Scientists and engineers are improving how social robots are able to help patients undergoing physical rehabilitation, act as teaching aides, work in nursing homes, and be used for other dynamic purposes.
The Kavli Foundation holds a roundtable to explore how advances in neuroscience are posing serious challenges for the judicial system, as well as possible solutions for the treatment of criminals. Participants in the discussion are Alan Leshner, Jay Giedd and Martha Farah.