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.
In a roundtable discussion, three leading scientists in the fields of neuroscience, brain imaging and cell biology weigh in on what it will take to find a cure for Alzheimer's and related neurodegenerative disorders.
By integrating neuroscience, engineering and data science, the new Kavli Institute at Johns Hopkins University aims to fuel new discoveries about how the brain functions. A discussion with Director Richard Huganir and Co-director Michael Miller.
Our bodies are home to a vast ecosystem of microbes – the microbiome – that has a powerful effect on the brain. Three researchers, Tracy Bale, Christopher Lowry and Sarkis Mazmanian, discuss the emerging gut-microbiome-brain connection and whether microbes may help us treat brain disorders.
On January 15, neuroscientist Christopher Lowry discussed the emerging science, that's connecting the microbiome – the community of microbes that inhabit the body – with brain health including whether we can treat common brain disorders through the gut.
The winners of the 2014 Kavli Prize in Neuroscience – Brenda Milner, John O’Keefe and Marcus E. Raichle – discuss what led them to study memory and cognition and the challenges they faced in getting their discoveries about the brain accepted.
Three geneticists – James Sikela of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, James Noonan of the Kavli Institute for Neuroscience at Yale, and Daniel Geschwind of UCLA – discuss how their field is revolutionizing the study of human brain evolution.