Brain plasticity is fundamentally important to how we develop, learn, remember, and adapt to a constantly changing world. Brain plasticity also holds tremendous therapeutic potential for reversing pathological conditions. The goal of Dr. Craig Brown’s research program is to understand the basic cellular and molecular mechanisms that allow the cerebral cortex to change throughout life in response to new experiences or pathology such as diabetes and stroke.
The laboratory has three lines of research. The first is to understand how diabetes changes vascular and neuronal networks in the cerebral cortex, thereby causing neurological deficits, an increased risk of stroke and poor functional recovery that is commonly associated with diabetes in the clinical setting. The second is directed at using nerve stimulation or pharmacologic/genetic interventions to enhance stroke recovery. The third line of research is to comprehend how learning and sensory experiences alter the structure, function and chemical composition of the somatosensory cortex. Brown employs a multi-level approach involving in vivo imaging technologies, as well as behavioural, histological and molecular strategies.
Tennant KA, Taylor SL, White ER, Brown CE. 2017. Optogenetic rewiring of thalamocortical circuits to restore function in the stroke injured brain. Nature Communications. (Article)
Sweetnam DA, Brown CE. Stroke induces long-lasting deficits in the temporal fidelity of sensory processing in the somatosensory cortex. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2013 Jan;33(1):91-6. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2012.135. Epub 2012 Sep 19. (PubMed abstract)
Sweetnam D, Holmes A, Tennant KA, Zamani A, Walle M, Jones P, Wong C, Brown CE. Diabetes impairs cortical plasticity and functional recovery following ischemic stroke. J Neurosci. 2012 Apr 11;32(15):5132-43. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5075-11.2012. (PubMed abstract)
Brown CE, Sweetnam D, Beange M, Nahirney PC, Nashmi R. α4* Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors modulate experience-based cortical depression in the adult mouse somatosensory cortex. J Neurosci. 2012 Jan 25;32(4):1207-19. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4568-11.2012. (PubMed abstract)
Brown CE, Boyd JD, Murphy TH. Longitudinal in vivo imaging reveals balanced and branch-specific remodeling of mature cortical pyramidal dendritic arbors after stroke. J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 2010 Apr;30(4):783-91. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.2009.241. Epub 2009 Nov 18. (PubMed abstract)
Brown CE, Aminoltejari K, Erb H, Winship IR, Murphy TH. In vivo voltage-sensitive dye imaging in adult mice reveals that somatosensory maps lost to stroke are replaced over weeks by new structural and functional circuits with prolonged modes of activation within both the peri-infarct zone and distant sites. J Neurosci. 2009 Feb 11;29(6):1719-34. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4249-08.2009. (PubMed abstract)