March 14 marks the start of Brain Awareness Week! Spearheaded by the Dana Foundation, the importance of brain research is catapulted onto the global platform between 14th–20th March 2022 – and cerebral successes in the field are celebrated. Research into the brain is vital for saving lives, increasing quality of life and explaining how ‘the little grey cells’ control our everyday functioning. We’ve whittled down for you a selection of thought-provoking articles about the organ hidden deep beneath our craniums. Read on to discover how the way we think affects our brain activity, the link between viruses and dementia, plus more brainy research in our round up of articles from the last year below.
Professor Clayton Wiley from the University of Pittsburgh studies the emergence of new brain viral infections and their link to dementia. He examines encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain tissue that disrupts brain function and causes symptoms of variable severity, such as headache, fever, confusion, altered consciousness, loss of a sense, memory problems, trouble focusing or speaking, or even seizures. Knowledge of these viruses which manage to enter the brain is essential to mitigate infection and to prepare for the inevitable arrival of newly emergent and unknown infectious agents.
Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM) is a serious form of brain cancer with highly limited treatment options. Through extensive clinical trials, dendritic cell vaccines have been shown to prolong life in patients. However, a successful randomised controlled clinical trial (RCT) has not been carried out. Professor Stefaan Van Gool, Medical Director of the Immuno-Oncological Center (IOZK) in Cologne, aims to understand why. His extensive literature review reveals the reasons why carrying out a successful RCT for GBM patients is so challenging. Building on this work, the IOZK team are developing promising new combination anti-cancer immunotherapy strategies that can be integrated with first-line treatment to improve patient prognosis.
Billions of cells make up the human brain. To keep this super-computer functioning, a carefully autoregulated blood supply provides oxygen and nutrients and removes waste products from the brain cells. In addition, cerebral circulation is involved in the regulation of the pressure inside the cranium. But what happens if this autoregulatory process is disrupted? Building on years of research into the microcirculation, Professor emeritus Akos Koller at Semmelweis University, Hungarian University of Sports Science (both in Budapest, Hungary), and New York Medical College (Valhalla, USA) explores the impact that traumatic brain injury can have on blood circulation in the brain and the mechanisms underlying this dysregulation.
People think and act differently. The ability to visualise things, to read newspapers upside down, to mentally rotate objects, to remember faces or phone numbers, or to perform any other daily task, differs from one person to another. Everyone is unique, and yet, despite these individual differences people interact, communicate and understand each other. Professor Kazuo Nishimura at Kobe University, together with his collaborators, uses magnetoencephalography (MEG) to examine brain activity, and test whether individual differences in abilities are reflected in how the brain functions.