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Understanding the complex workings of the brain and nervous system is the first step to developing effective ways to prevent and repair damage.

Unlike other tissues in the body, which regenerate through the birth of new cells, nervous tissues do not regenerate. We are born with all the neurons we will ever have, so when too many neurons die, critical cognitive and motor control functions die with them.

Researchers affiliated with the Brain Repair Centre are going all the way back to the very beginnings of the nervous system, as it develops in utero. They want to understand how stem cells differentiate into different kinds of neurons and form themselves into neural circuits that control a complex array of functions, including coordinated movement. Learning how neurons are born and synaptic connections are formed will shed light on how to regenerate lost populations of neurons and restore broken connections to regain function.

At the same time, researchers are learning how we learn and how we form memories, in their search for new strategies for preventing memory loss and regaining such abilities as speech.

Researchers:

  • James Fawcett, understanding neuronal and synaptic development to reveal strategies for repair 
  • Alan Fine, learning and memory
  • Angelo Iulianella, harnessing the process of neuron birth for cellular repair
  • Aaron Newman, language learning and rehabilitation
  • Victor Rafuse, development of neurons and synaptic connections involved in motor control
  • George Robertson, cell death and survival in the central nervous system
  • Ying Zhang, neural circuits and mechanisms that control locomotion
Dalhousie University Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation Labour and Advanced Education
IWK Health Centre Capital Health QEII Health Science Centre Foundation
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