Here are ten emerging areas of neuroscience that will impact the future of treatments for brain and nervous system which were published as a result of the cutting edge research being presented at the Society for Neuroscience Conference held in Washington DC last week. Top 10 Trends of 2009:
1. Epigenetics leading to new treatment targets: New research highlights the critical interactions of genes and the environment in brain health and development revealing new treatment strategies and potential therapeutic targets for obesity, memory loss, addiction and mental illness.
2. National Neurotechnology Initiative Act: Momentum for this recently introduced legislation which provides $200M a year for federal R&D aimed at accelerating translational neurotech innovation and improving the effectiveness of FDA review process for neuroscience drugs, devices and diagnostics grows.
3. New Sources of Stem Cells: The discovery of new sources of neural stem cells are opening up new avenues and potentially whole new treatment strategies for stroke, vision loss, hearing loss, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS.
4. Deep Brain Stimulation: New clinical research into the use of deep brain stimulation devices for the treatment of neurological diseases and psychiatric illnesses continues to provide new hope to those suffering from drug treatment forms of these illnesses.
5. Addiction advances: New research that clarifies the role of impulsivity in treating cocaine addiction and synaptic plasticity in the control of inhibitory circuits could potentially lead to new treatment strategies for this epidemic impacting over 1.1 billion worldwide.
6. Stress prevention: New research shows that even a few hours of stress can reduce neural connectivity and that chronic stress, in particular early in life, can shrink critical areas of the brain. These findings may lead to new treatment strategies for PTSD and other anxiety-related disorders.
7. Traumatic brain injury advances: Early detection proves important for effective treatment while new research into inflammation may provide new treatments for people with brain injuries and stroke.
8. Get your sleep: More research points to the critical role that a proper night’s sleep plays in the memory consolidation, learning and mental illness further validating the need for effective therapeutics which engender healthy sleep patterns.
9. Discovery tools underpin innovation: New imaging techniques coupled with advances in neuroinformatics, image-based neural circuit analysis, and neural computation are accelerating the pace of neuroscientific discovery beyond what was imagined a decade ago.
10. Neuroscience infiltrates society: From neurofinance, neuroeconomics to neuroesthetics to neuroethics and neurolaw, the influence of neuroscience on society continues to grow.