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Research Themes and Platforms

Brain and mental health research at the University of Calgary will be focused under three discovery-based themes: Brain & Behaviour; Neural Injury & Repair; and Healthy Brain Aging, which are supported by NeuroTechnologies Platforms. The themes cultivate cross-campus, collaborative research programs that capitalize on interdisciplinary approaches to brain and mental health research. They address brain and mental health research across the life course of the developed brain, which we define as from adolescence to senescence. Across all three themes, prediction, prevention and early intervention for neurological and mental illness and injury are cross-cutting goals of the university. The NeuroTechnologies Platforms elevate research within all three themes. Under each theme, researchers will be organized around NeuroTeams to foster collaboration and innovation.

Brain & Behaviour Research Theme:
Understanding how the brain controls behaviour remains one the biggest fundamental challenges of neuroscience. How behaviours are controlled or modified, how thoughts are turned into actions and how memories are gained or lost will be understood by studying the synaptic circuitry of the brain. Neurological and mental health conditions that range from epilepsy to the mental health disorders of depression and anxiety also have their basis in structural and/or functional alterations in the circuitry of the brain. A key trigger for many brain disorders is stress. The functional circuitry of stress remains to be fully understood. Frequently affecting adolescents and young adults, understanding the basis of neurological and mental health conditions is the focus of Brain & Behaviour.
Brain & Behaviour NeuroTeams

Neural Injury & Repair Research Theme:
Injuries to the brain or peripheral nervous system have lifelong consequences for otherwise healthy people. Injuries can be initiated by immune mechanisms inside the body, as is the case for multiple sclerosis, changes in blood flow to the brain, as occurs after a stroke, or through trauma or accidents, as is the case for concussion and the spinal cord injuries that frequently occur after motor cycle accidents. A fundamental understanding of the mechanisms of neural injury, developing approaches to speed recovery and rehabilitate those who have neural injuries is the focus of Neural Injury & Repair.
Neural Injury & Repair NeuroTeams

Healthy Brain Aging Research Theme:
In an aging population, dementia has already become the most expensive medical condition in the Canadian health care system. Other brain conditions such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease, to name only two, are also a concern for our communities. This research theme of Healthy Brain Aging is focused on understanding the fundamental causes and developing new and improved treatments, for neurological and mental health conditions affecting the aging brain.
Healthy Brain Aging NeuroTeams

NeuroTechnologies Platforms:
Cross-cutting NeuroTechnologies will create an environment that acts as a springboard for creativity and excellence in research. This platform will provide researchers across all areas of brain and mental health with the most advanced equipment available, enabling University of Calgary researchers to be competitive with the top neuroscience facilities in the world. The NeuroTechnologies PlatformS incorporates a long-term plan for maintenance and operation, including technical expertise to facilitate and capitalize on research within the new infrastructure. The NeuroTechnologies Platforms encompass:

  1. NeuroImaging – imaging technology, which has rapidly evolved to improve our ability to observe and record fundamental brain structure, physiology and function at the micro- and macroscopic scale.
  2. NeuroStimulation – revolutionary tools that can establish causal links between neural circuits and behaviour and may lead to new, non-invasive treatments for neurological and mental health diseases.
  3. NeuroInformatics – the next generation of neuroscience research will take advantage of ‘big data’ analysis to integrate multiple data sets and visualize trends, with large resulting programming and storage needs. Clinical, genetic, imaging and behavioural data will be collected and analyzed to better understand and predict factors affecting brain health.

Brain and Mental Health Discovery Research Framework