Page 32-33 - NeuRA 2013 in Review

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Main image:
Dr Claire Shepherd,
Manager, Sydney Brain Bank.
(above) Staining slides of
brain tissue; (opposite) a selection
of brain tissue slides.
There’s never been a more exciting
time in neuroscience.
The brain is the last of the human organs to
give up its secrets. Every other organ has had its
structure and chemical composition identified.
But the brain is so intrinsically bound up with the
person to whom it belongs that the study of the
organ in isolation can be problematic.
To date, medical research has identified more
than 500 brain diseases. But it is only symptoms
and syndromes that identify many of these
diseases, which make it difficult to diagnose the
diseases let alone pinpoint the underlying cause.
Here we perform fundamental neuroscience,
researching the brain’s structure and function, and
our researchers are renowned world experts in
brain mapping.
We also house the Sydney Brain Bank, which
comprises more than 800 donated brains. The
bank collects, characterises and distributes human
brain tissue for research purposes. Uniquely, our
researchers establish a relationship with a person
for years before receiving their brain, collecting full
medical and background information, including
obtaining brain scans during life. The knowledge
of this history can then be matched with what is
observed of their brain tissue, post mortem.
New, non-invasive imaging technology also
allows us to study the brain in situ. Our researchers
can see live changes in brain activity and blood flow,
and determine brain chemistry and structure. There’s
never been a more exciting time in neuroscience.
Understanding the human brain is one of the greatest challenges
of 21st century science.
Your Brain | 31