- Cellular and molecular mechanisms of neuronal plasticity
- Diabetes and stroke research
- Investigation of higher-order information processing centers
It weighs just three pounds and is almost 80 per cent water. Yet the human brain, which contains over 100 billion neurons, is constantly undergoing complex changes essential to processes that include learning, memory and, most importantly, self repair. How exactly this happens is still a mystery; one that Dr. Craig Brown hopes to solve.
Dr. Brown, a researcher and instructor in the Division of Medical Sciences, studies brain plasticity - the process by which the brain changes, continually creating new connections between the cells responsible for interpreting and sending massive amounts of information every day.
As a neuroscientist with a background in biological psychology, Dr. Brown looks at how the structure and function of the brain change on a molecular and systems level.
Before the 1960s, it was commonly believed that brain development was fixed after childhood, incapable of further change or growth. Scientists now know that when brain cells are damaged or destroyed, as they are during a stroke, the brain eventually compensates by redirecting information through new neuronal routes to regain some level of function.
One of the most compelling projects currently underway in Dr. Brown's lab is aimed at understanding why stroke recovery is drastically limited in diabetics. It's possible, he says, that diabetes impairs the natural ability of the brain to "rewire" after damage.
Dr. Brown's Faces of UVic Research video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HV1yA4qA7Fw