Brain diseases & disorders

Deep brain stimulationA 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.

Diseases In A Dish: Modeling Mental Disorders

Oct 07, 2011

Using skin cells from patients with mental disorders, scientists are creating brain cells that are now providing extraordinary insights into afflictions like schizophrenia and Parkinson’s disease.

The Neuroscience of Decision Making

Aug 16, 2011

Researchers are beginning to decipher what exactly happens in our brains when we are making decisions.  Three experts in the field describe the genesis of this cutting-edge field and how it evolved to incorporate several disciplines, as well as current driving questions and potential practical applications of this research.

The Brain and the Public: Q&A with Susan G. Amara, President, the Society for Neuroscience

May 10, 2011

Susan G. Amara, President of the Society for Neuroscience, responds in-depth to questions about Brainfacts.org, the Society's anticipated new public website about brain research, and how SfN’s own efforts at outreach have evolved since its inception.

Tobias Bonhoeffer on the Adaptive Brain in Action

Jun 29, 2010

Armed with new imaging methods such as two-photon microscopy, Tobias Bonhoeffer, director of the Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology in Martinsreid, Germany, is a leading researcher on how the brain adapts to its environment.

Smart Moves: Daniel Wolpert, Motor Control and the Brain

Mar 10, 2010

Whether engaged in a chess game or something less obvious, the brain is constantly thinking. Daniel Wolpert, a professor of engineering at the University of Cambridge, admits that a game of chess is an excellent demonstration of the brain at work.

Understanding Our Sense of Place

Nov 29, 2008

Among the vast store of memories we carry around in our heads, there is a large and crucial collection of maps. Most of these have little to do with geography in the usual sense; they’re more like road maps to our everyday surroundings.

The Human Factor

Aug 29, 2007

Man, monkey, mouse.  Very different animals, of course, but they have plenty biological similarities. Humans and rhesus macaque monkeys are estimated to share about 93% of their DNA. 

Frontiers in Neuroscience

A model illustrating how neuronal gates work to channel just thre right ammount of information. (Courtesy of Amy Arnsten, Yale University)
Jun 25, 2007

In the 21st century, scientists hope not only to uncover the secrets behind our most devastating neurological diseases, but how the brain makes us who we are.

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