The following grants were approved prior to December 2012.
$136,854Phoebe Macrae Department of Communication Disorders - University of Canterbury 2010 - December
Many patients who survive a stroke or other neurological damage are unable to eat or drink independently due to difficulty swallowing: instead they are reliant on a tube through the nose or stomach for nutrition. There are treatments for disordered swallowing, but clinicians cannot be confident in the outcomes that will be achieved, due to the lack of evidence in swallowing rehabilitation research. This study will investigate the effects of a novel treatment on swallowing recovery. The treatment alters the communication from the damaged parts of the brain during swallowing, therefore facilitating communication from the intact brain regions with the swallowing muscles.
$10,000Dr Gina Grimshaw, Associate Professor John McDowall Victoria University of Wellington 2010 - June
Depression is a debilitating mental illness with high emotional, physical, and financial costs to patients, their families, and society. Some individuals are predisposed to developing depression, and can be identified through recordings of the brain's electrical activity. Most people have greater activity over the left than the right frontal areas of the brain; those who are vulnerable to depression have a reversed pattern. The goal of this research is to determine what thought processes are affected by this pattern of asymmetry, to develop an understanding of how neural activity can give rise to depression.
$89,103Professor Alan Barber, Neurological Foundation Chair of Clinical Neurology Department of Medicine, Auckland City Hospital, and Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences - University of Auckland 2010 - December
Of the 8,000 New Zealanders who have a stroke each year, a quarter will have previously experienced a transient ischemic attack (TIA). TIA is important as it indicates an increased risk of stroke and provides a window of opportunity for prevention. Little is known about the numbers of people having a TIA, or their outcomes and risk of stroke. In an age of aggressive stroke and heart disease risk factor management New Zealand is an ideal place to carry out this research because local researchers have a vast experience in performing these ‘incidence studies’ and because of our ethnically diverse population. This research aims to perform their first and largest TIA incidence and outcome study in New Zealand. Outcomes from this study will play a central role in the planning of services and development of health policy in relation to TIA and stroke, within New Zealand and internationally, and to inform evidence-based recommendations for health care.
Identifying the mechanism by which lithium chloride directs neuronal differentiation of adult neural progenitor cells
$10,000Assoc Prof Bronwen Connor Department of Pharmacology and Clinical Pharmacology - University of Auckland 2010 - June
Cell transplantation therapy offers a viable treatment strategy for patients with a range of neurological disorders by providing new cells to replace those lost through disease or injury. One potential cell source for transplantation currently being investigated is neural stem cells. Assoc Prof Connor and her research team have previously shown that treating neural stem cells with lithium chloride prior to transplantation enhances the generation of new replacement neurons and accelerates functional improvement in a rodent model of neurological disease. This project will extend these findings and identify the mechanism by which lithium chloride treatment of neural stem cells promotes neuronal cell replacement and functional recovery.
Anatomy of the GABAergic synaptic intervention to dopaminergic neurons in the circuitry of non-reward: a three-dimensional ultrastructural study of somal innervation.
$182,739Associate Professor Dorothy Oorschot Department of Anatomy and Structural Biology - University of Otago 2010 - December
The relation between the anatomy of neural circuits and their functions is central to understanding information processing in the brain. Dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain, a brain region responsible for the refinement of behaviour, have key roles in reward processing, learning and memory, and movement. Their dysfunction is implicated in a number of disorders, including Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and drug addiction. Aversive or negative stimuli alert neurons expressing the inhibitory neurochemical GABA in the midbrain to stop dopamine neurons firing, causing the animal to react appropriately to the stimulus. How this happens is poorly understood. The researchers will measure the structural and functional connectivity within the midbrain in a laboratory model. Single GABA-expressing neurons in the midbrain will be filled with a marker. Their connections onto dopamine neurons in the midbrain will be three-dimensionally mapped and analysed. These results will improve our understanding of how brain microcircuitry controls behaviour and contributes to neurological conditions.