Restoring brain function: from cortical microcircuits to complex behaviours in neurodegenerative disease

Year of award: 2014


  • Dr James Rowe

    University of Cambridge

Project summary

The consequences of dementias are a major cause of concern for families and public health, and they are also becoming a severe national economic burden. However, little is known about how microscopic changes in the brain cause psychological and behavioural changes. It is important that we can connect the genetic and chemical changes in the brain to the symptoms of dementia if we are to meet the long-term aim of restoring patients’ brain function.

We will develop a new way to look for effective therapies, creating links between molecular and cellular mechanisms of dementia and their behavioural consequences. We will study people affected by two illnesses, frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). These diseases are not only devastating and incurable, but they also provide special opportunities to develop new treatments and new brain scanning tools to test them. These new tools include magnetoencephalography (MEG) scanning to look at the electrical circuits of the brain, magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and positron emission tomography (PET) scanning to look at the chemical changes in the brain. We will use these techniques to study several drugs which are designed to help restore brain function.

Our findings may lead to new treatment options for dementia.