Members of the public had the chance to hear from brain researchers directly, in person, at a public forum presented by the Brain Repair Centre this March during Brain Awareness Week. Dr. David Anderson, dean of Dalhousie Medical School, hosted the well-attended forum, the second in a series launched by the BRC in December 2015.

Find an overview of the December 2015 BRC Public Forum here.

Brain Repair Centre researcher members shared their insights into common concerns about stress, sleep and neurodegeneration at the March forum:

Be Calm, Your Kids Will Thank You!
Dr. Tara Perrot, professor and chair in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Science, spoke about her work to understand the impact of early-life exposure to stress on behaviour and the brain. For example, she and her students have found that high stress levels in mother rats during and after pregnancy elevate her pups’ stress hormones and compromise their general health. Mitigating mother rats’ stress, however, has positive effects on her young. Dr. Perrot’s research has implications for studying these mechanisms in human. Her future goals include exploring how fostering resilience through positive responses to stress may protect children against chronic stress, anxiety and depression. Learn more about Dr. Tara Perrot’s research here.

A New Therapeutic Approach to Promote Brain Repair
Dr. George S. Robertson, a professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine, discussed his work on preventing the destructive processes responsible for brain damage in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease. He has been studying the mechanisms responsible for dyskinesia—uncontrollable and abnormal movements experienced by people with Parkinson’s disease and other disorders—for many years and hopes his findings will shed light on new therapies for this and other neurodegenerative conditions. He is actively involved in developing and testing new molecules with the potential to protect neurons from age- and disease-related damage. Learn more about Dr. George S. Robertson’s research here.

The Effects of Chronic Sleep Loss on Your Mind and Heart
Dr. Thierno Madjou Bah, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Medical Neuroscience in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine, shared what he is learning about the effects of chronic sleep loss on health. He has found that sleep deprivation not only impairs cognitive function, but increases a person’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease and metabolic disorders (such as insulin resistance). Dr. Bah cautioned against too much sleep, however, as this can also be harmful to a person’s body and mind and emphasized that adequate sleep duration is important for preventing sleep-related health issues in modern society. While the need for sleep varies from person to person, people should aim for no fewer than six, and no more than ten, hours of sleep each night.

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