Neuroscience is entering a new era of discovery that could yield dramatic advances in understanding the brain and treating brain and mental health disorders. Success hinges on a model of global neuroscience for which Canada is poised for leadership. The Canadian Brain Research Strategy, which draws on our nation’s rich history in neuroscience, robust scientific talent and collaborative culture, provides a roadmap for transforming Canada into a neuroscience-driven nation and a global leader.
The Challenge: Understanding the Brain
Understanding the brain is one of the greatest scientific challenges of our time. It is also one of the most urgent. The massive burden of brain disorders affecting people of all ages, such as autism, neurodegenerative diseases, depression and substance abuse, is acute and growing. At the same time, the digital age is rapidly changing every facet of the way we live, including how we learn, communicate and perhaps even think. Only through advances in brain research can these challenges be addressed.
The Opportunity: New Era for Neuroscience
There is ample reason for optimism. Modern neuroscience is undergoing a revolution that is yielding remarkable new insights into how the brain works. New tools are allowing researchers to investigate the brain in unprecedented ways and generating vast amounts of new data.
Much like geneticists who came together in the 1990s to crack the code of life, multidisciplinary teams of brain researchers must come together today to explain how the brain gives rise to a rich tapestry of thoughts, feelings and actions. Doing so will dramatically change the way we prevent, diagnose and treat brain disorders, potentially shifting the management of many neurological and psychiatric disorders from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more personalized one.
Beyond health, a coordinated effort to understand the brain will expand the boundaries of technology, driving the development of new tools to benefit science and society, which could include next-generation machines and generalized artificial intelligence. The effort to map the intricacies of the brain, record it in action, and see more cells more deeply will fuel innovations that can be applied to any complex system.