NeuRA Magazine #27

NEUROSCIENTIST DISCOVERS HIDDEN REGION OF THE HUMAN BRAIN

World-renowned cartographer of the brain, Scientia Professor George Paxinos AO, from NeuRA has announced the discovery of an unknown region of the human brain. This new region is found near the brain-spinal cord junction. Professor George Paxinos has named it the Endorestiform Nucleus.

Professor Paxinos is the author of the most cited publication in neuroscience and another 52 books of highly detailed maps of the brain. The maps chart the course for neurosurgery and neuroscience research, enabling exploration, discovery and the development of treatments for diseases of the brain.

Professor Paxinos suspected the existence of the Endorestiform Nucleus 30 years ago and now with better staining and imaging techniques he is able to prove it. Commenting on this discovery, Professor Paxinos says it can be likened to finding a new star.

“There is nothing more pleasant for a neuroscientist than identifying a hitherto unknown area of the human brain. In this case there is also the intrigue that this area is absent in monkeys and other animals,” said Professor Paxinos, adding, “there have to be some things that are unique about the human brain besides its larger size, and this may be one of them.”

The discovery of new brain regions helps researchers to explore cures for diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and motor neuron disease. The Endorestiform Nucleus was noticed when Professor Paxinos introduced the use of chemical stains, combined with imaging techniques, in the production of his latest atlas.

The Endorestiform Nucleus is located within the inferior cerebellar peduncle, an area that integrates sensory and motor information to refine our posture, balance and fine movements.

An increasingly detailed understanding of the architecture and connectivity of the central nervous system has been central to most major discoveries in neuroscience in the last 100 years.

“Professor Paxinos’ atlases showing detailed morphology and connections of the human brain and spinal cord, provide a critical framework for researchers to test hypotheses from synaptic function to treatments for diseases of the brain,” said Professor Peter Schofield, CEO at NeuRA.

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LEAD!- Leveraging Evidence into Action on Dementia

Currently, there is no effective treatment for dementia, highlighting the urgent need to preventing more cases through evidence-based strategies for risk reduction. As there is an overlap between the risk factors for dementia and other preventable non-communicable diseases including stroke, diabetes, and heart disease, it is important to build upon proven risk-reduction strategies. What is LEAD? LEAD! is a project funded by the NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Grant led by Professor Kaarin Anstey. It involves an international collaboration between leading academics, clinicians, consumers, and community members. Organisations involved include the Department of Health, WHO, Dementia Australia, Alzheimer’s Disease International, Diabetes Australia, and Heart Foundation. The project aims to translate dementia research and implement evidence-based strategies for dementia risk reduction to individuals, communities, and healthcare centres. Three workstreams The project has three concurrent workstreams over five years: Development, Implementation, and Evaluation and adoption. The Development stream, led by Professor Kaarin Anstey and Associate Professor Peters, focuses on building a new tool for predicting dementia and other non-communicable diseases including stroke, diabetes or myocardial infarction. The tool will be available to the public, researchers and clinicians. It will save clinical assessment time, accurately predict multiple outcomes and will be more acceptable in comparison to using individual tools for each disease outcome. The Implementation stream led by Professor Nicola Lautenschalger’s team at the University of Melbourne, will develop strategies to support the implementation of dementia risk reduction evidence by engaging with consumers, clinicians, policy makers, and the public. The stream will develop strategies for incorporating the new risk assessment tool into various technological platforms (e.g., websites or apps). The Evaluation and adoption stream, led by Professor Anstey and in collaboration with Professor Louisa Jorm and Dr Heidi Welberry at UNSW, focuses on measuring trajectories of Australian’s national risk factor profiles for multiple chronic diseases. Collaboration with key stakeholders including the WHO will help build an evaluation framework and methodology for implementing evidence on dementia risk reduction based on WHO guidelines at national level and in the global context.
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