There are several well-known diseases where neurodegeneration occurs, including Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, in which your memory and ability to think are affected, and Parkinson's disease and related disorders, in which your ability to move is affected.
Brain researchers, no less than geographers, need maps and coordinate systems to navigate the brain and communicate their observations to each other. On a map of the brain we can superimpose types of neurons, neurotransmitters, enzymes, and connectivity and functional data. We are continuing to develop and refine brain atlases of humans and experimental animals which are used internationally.
The major psychiatric disorders schizophrenia and bipolar disorder each affect around 1% of the population and Neuroscience Research Australia has active programs in these areas, as well as childhood developmental disorders such as autism.
Our research includes a range of studies from basic research into the mechanisms of injury, to developing improved treatments for injured people and to developing strategies to prevent injuries.
Sensory inputs are crucial to drive movement, whether this be controlling the finger and thumb to hold a pen, moving arms to gesture, or using breathing muscles to speak. We are examining how the sensory system works, how it affects the motor output from the brain, and how it gives us an accurate ‘sensory’ map of the external world, allowing us to make accurate movements. Maintaining balance is a complex act of processing sensory information and coordination. We are exploring the effects of vision, sensation and vestibular function on balance. We are also investigating the physiology and biomechanics of walking, stepping reactions and trips, and are looking at the risk factors for falls to develop strategies to prevent them. Breathing requires the coordination of many muscles and control systems in the brain. Our research examines the way the brain controls breathing muscles in health and in diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, spinal cord injury and obstructive sleep apnoea.