Neuroscience in YBRI spans research into molecular mechanisms to behaviour of the whole organism, while also embracing patient-based studies.
The questions that YBRI neuroscientists address reach across the three areas of research:
- sensorimotor neuroscience
- cognitive neuroscience
- neuroscience of the lifespan
Imaging the human brain underpins much of the research activity in neuroscience at YBRI, but fundamental molecular mechanisms of disease and dysfunction of the nervous system are also examined. Bridging the gap between work on human (York Neuroimaging Centre) and molecular mechanisms is research on animal models including research using the preclinical MRI system (Centre for Hyperpolarisation in Magnetic Resonance). Novel imaging procedures and analytical techniques are also developed at York and cover multiple scales and resolutions to capture structure, function and neurochemistry of the brain (Duckett, Kennerley, Quinn). The use of imaging techniques are maximised by the York-Maastricht Partnership that allows YBRI academics to access unrivalled ultra-high field MRI in Maastricht. We also research the way in which medical images are interpreted by expert radiologists with a view to understand how disease detection can be optimised (Evans K).
Our neuroscience is strengthened by the links that academics have with clinical colleagues at York Hospital and other health institutions in the region. Strong links exist with the Ophthalmology and Neuroscience Departments at York Hospital with investigations into visual deficits and motor neuron disease. Moreover, links are being built with research into neuroscience and mental health (Lagos, van der Feltz-Cornelis).
Our research explores visual deficits examining atypical development and age-related disease of the visual system that allows the capacity for stability and plasticity of the brain to be examined (Baker, Baseler, Morland, Wade). We also study the use of visual responses to act as biomarkers in neurodegeneration.
Cognitive function and its neural underpinnings are investigated at both ends of the lifespan capturing the development of learning and memory and how sleep impacts on these functions (Cairney, Gaskell, Goebel, Henderson, Horner) and decline of memory and language in dementia (Hartley, Jefferies).
Neuroscience of the lifespan
Mechanisms of atypical development including Rett syndrome (Evans G, Goffin) and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s (Wade) and Motor Neuron Disease (Chen, Sweeney) and its potential links with Frontotemporal dementia are investigated.
In addition to research into the fundamental mechanisms of the diseases, researchers study early disease detection (Smith), potential for rehabilitation (Pelah) and impact of disease on the brain structure and function.