Brains: Bringing sexy back

Download MaRS’ industry briefing

The verdict is in: Brains are hotter than ever. You could say the whole field of neuroscience is on fire. Daily we are bombarded with news highlighting our expanding understanding of cognition, neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.

Canada strongly holds its own in the world of neurotechnology. Canada’s neuroscience research is world-class, ranking fifth in the world in the number of neuroscience citations. For details check out MaRS’ latest industry briefing, “Neurotechnology: Focus on Aging.”

My interest in the field has been bolstered through our partnering with Baycrest. I feel very lucky to be a member of the Baycrest community. Firstly, because it is an amazing institution and a constant source of inspiration for me.  This month, thanks to Baycrest, I experienced my own geeky nirvana while attending the frontal lobe conference in honour of Dr. Stuss. My favorite lecture was delivered by Dr. Terry Picton who mixed metaphors of art and hard data to describe the construction of a mind.

The frontal lobes are considered our emotional control centre, they are home to our personality. They are further involved in problem solving, spontaneity, memory, language, initiation, judgment, impulse control, motor function, as well as social and sexual behavior.

Neuroscientists have two basic strategies for understanding brain function: the study of patients with certain damage (stroke, injury etc.) and employing imaging techniques (fMRI, EEG, MEG). The combination of these approaches makes it possible to understand and model how neural regional action and interaction relate to perception, attention, and memory. This understanding guides researchers in the development of rehabilitation strategies.

Frontal lobes make us human. It is interesting that damage to the frontal lobes may have an insignificant effect upon traditional IQ test results while impacting considerably our problem solving and understanding the mental processes of others. One of the most common characteristics of frontal lobe damage is difficulty in correctly interpreting feedback from one’s environment.

Don’t you think it is time to start working on our frontal lobes?