Collaboration in the clinical neurosciences
A number of cutting-edge neuroscience methods have tremendous potential to help patients suffering from disorders of the nervous system. An EU-funded project is working to facilitate collaborative research, with the aim of better understanding cognitive impairments and improving patient outcomes.
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Cognitive impairments can have devastating effects on the lives of patients and their families. Specific neural network architectures within the brain are known to underlie functions such as reading and spelling, motor speech and handwriting control, and visual processing. Any or all of these can be damaged by stroke or neurodegenerative disease.
The central aim of the EU-funded COBEN project is to facilitate collaborative research in the clinical neurosciences. The project is establishing an international consortium to study a variety of behavioural disorders that are known to be linked to specific neural architectures.
Under the COBEN project, researchers are employing a number of advanced methods from the leading edge of the neurosciences. Behavioural neurology, for example, is a rapidly developing scientific discipline. It is being used to identify the neurobiological basis of cognitive impairment associated with different types of brain disorders.
Similarly, recent advances in structural and functional neuroimaging are providing powerful tools for studying the neural networks that support normal cognition. Such imaging techniques are improving understanding of the mechanisms that affect patients with specific neuropsychological deficits.
Finally, non-invasive brain stimulation techniques offer exciting new opportunities to modulate neural network function and brain plasticity to obtain long-lasting therapeutic benefits.
The COBEN project, which received funding through the EUs Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship programme, is bringing together researchers with complementary expertise in all these areas. The central aim is to study universal, language-specific and disease-specific neural network architectures underlying reading/spelling, motor speech/handwriting control, and visual processing. Novel behavioural paradigms are introduced to assess cognition and identify changes in neural network dynamics responsible for cognitive impairment in patients with stroke or neurodegenerative disease.
COBEN is actively promoting the transfer of knowledge and innovation while providing the necessary infrastructure and organisational framework to maintain this collaboration beyond the projects lifetime. It also represents a new model for training future generations of behavioural neurologists, ultimately promising to better serve the needs of patients across Europe and around the world.