The Canadian Brain Research Strategy (CBRS) aims to bring together researchers and Canadians living with brain conditions from across the country to address a fundamental question:
How does the brain learn, remember and adapt?
CBRS’s focus on the brain’s changeability is about understanding ourselves. It is also essential to find new ways to heal the brain after injury, protect it against insult, treat developmental and learning disorders, and even to enhance its resilience as we age.
As we learn and make memories, some of the connections between nerve cells increase and strengthen, others weaken or are removed. This remodeling, also called “neuroplasticity,” is constant from morning to night, and from infancy to adulthood, shaping how we perceive and interact with the world around us. Simply put, it is what makes us human. CBRS’s focus on the brain’s changeability is about understanding ourselves.
But neuroplasticity is complex. When it is abnormal, it can lead to a wide variety of developmental and psychiatric disorders. As a result, understanding this changeability is essential to finding ways to heal the brain after injury, protect it against insult, treat developmental and learning disorders, and even to enhance its resilience as we age.
To answer this fundamental question, CBRS will move Canada toward a “big science” model for brain research that is open, collaborative and transdisciplinary. The power of CBRS comes from the commitment among Canada’s neuroscience leaders to work together in a way that other countries really can’t do. By creating national networks of students, trainees and brain researchers and an enhanced research infrastructure through which tools, technology and data can be shared, CBRS will create a fertile research environment for studying how the brain learns, remembers and adapts. Moreover, it will enhance the research taking place in individual labs, which will have access to CBRS-driven human and physical resources. As a result, we believe CBRS will dramatically enhance fundamental discovery and allow us to apply brain research to benefit Canadian health and society in the broadest sense. That is what will make Canada a neuroscience-driven nation and a global leader.