New opinion article proposes an approach linking brain organisation stages from genes to consciousness
In the article, entitled "Climbing brain levels of organisation from genes to consciousness", Prof. Changeux proposes and approach that offers insights into the long-distance connection between genes and cognitive functions, including the relationship between brain development and sociocultural environment. The strategy links the stages of brain organisation at four structural levels: genes; transcription factors (TF)-gene networks; synaptic epigenesist; and, long-range connectivity.
There are several international programs that aim to our advance understanding of the human brain using different approaches, but some serious challenges still remain. One of these is that much of the data generated do not allude to the molecular level, an essential aspect for drug design. In addition, modelling studies rarely take into account evolutionary and developmental dynamics of brain organisation, and microprocessor models may not fully represent synaptic and neuronal dynamics. The various concepts and data from disparate brain disciplines therefore need to be integrated into a unified framework of brain biology and development.
Prof. Changeux puts forward a framework to connect these levels via interlevel bridging processes that operate both top-down and bottom-up, and also considers the different timescales apparent during the brain's development. The strategy proposed could help integrate these discrete brain disciplines and the wealth of data generated, and may pave the way towards new IT modelling approaches that integrate multiple timescale dynamics. As well as insights into the relationships between genes and functions, the strategy also proposes how these relationships might be altered in brain disorders. Prof. Changeux hopes that the proposed framework may help to unify the varied multidisciplinary approaches aimed at understanding the human brain.
The full text of the paper is available on the Trends in Cognitive Sciences website.
The multidisciplinary and multicenter approach needed to tackle the issues around understanding the brain are highlighted in an article in the latest issue of Lancet Neurology.
Over the next two years, foundations will be laid for a comprehensive and sustainable gender strategy for the entire term of the HBP. The HBP is supported in this challenging task by EAF Berlin, an independent, non-profit research and consulting organization.
The activities planned for the next 15 months include:
- An online survey of all HBP staff, the results of which will serve as a baseline to ensure that future policies can be aligned with identified needs and barriers. Both female and male scientists will be invited to share their experiences and recommendations.
- A good practice study and a database will collect innovative policies and existing measures from the collaborating partners and institutions in order to disseminate good practices and to raise awareness.
- In order to monitor gender equality activities and to transfer them into the entire HBP, a gender advisory committee, linked to the governing structures of the HBP, will be set up. A gender action plan with targets and milestones will be developed.
- Finally, a conference on gender perspectives will take place in 2018.
The gender equality activities are coordinated by the Project Coordination Office in Geneva.
Founded as a spin-off of the Technical University of Berlin, the EAF Berlin has 20 years of experience of advising clients in the public and private sector, as well as in academia, on gender equality and diversity. For more information, visit www.eaf-berlin.de.