We know that as we learn and make memories, some of the connections between nerve cells increase and strengthen, while others weaken or are removed. This remodelling, 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.
But neuroplasticity is complex. When it is abnormal, it can lead to a wide variety of developmental disorders, mental illnesses and addictions. As a result, understanding this changeability is essential to finding ways to protect the brain against insult; heal it after injury; treat developmental, learning and psychiatric disorders; and enhance its resilience throughout the aging process.
Against this backdrop, Canada’s neuroscience community envisionsa unified, national brain initiative: the Canadian Brain Research Strategy (CBRS). CBRS will 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?
To answer this fundamental question, CBRS will move Canada toward a big-science model for brain research that is collaborative, transdisciplinary and open. The power of CBRS comes from Canada’s deep scientific expertise in brain research, artificial intelligence and neuroethics combined with clinical excellence that leverages our universal health-related data to inform basic research and patient care. It is also builds on a history of collaborative research and the commitment of our scientific leaders to work together across disciplinary boundaries.
CBRS embraces Canada’s science vision and will focus on creating an equitable, diverse and collaborative science workforce and an enhanced research infrastructure through which tools, technology and data can be shared. In so doing, it will strengthen the brain research ecosystem, creating a fertile research environment for studying how the brain learns, remembers and adapts.
We believe CBRS will produce new knowledge about the brain that will lead to policies that enhance and enrich the lives of Canadians.