How can understanding the neurobiology of cognition lead us to new treatments for brain disorders?

Dr. Lisa Saksida, Canada Research Chair in Translational Cognitive Neuroscience, Tier 1, studies the brain’s capacity for learning, memorizing and paying attention. Through mapping the neural pathways in a healthy brain, Dr. Saksida can better understand the effects of neurodegenerative disorders. She dares to ask: how can understanding the neurobiology of cognition lead to new treatments for brain disorders?

How does cognitive function in a diseased brain change from a healthy one? As the co-director of the Translational Cognitive Neuroscience Lab (TCNLab), Dr. Lisa Saksida uses computational modelling to create touch-screen virtual games for mouse models to test various areas of cognition. Through manipulating specific neurons and observing the effect on behaviour, Dr. Saksida advances our understanding of how neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, and even environmental factors like a junk food diet, impact cognitive function.

Dr. Saksida is a Professor of Physiology & Pharmacology at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, a scientist at the Robarts Research Institute, and the Scientific Director of BrainsCAN. She has diverse expertise in psychology, robotics and artificial intelligence, and computer sciences.

Daring to Ask is a series that profiles Canada Research Chairs and Endowed Research Chairs at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. These researchers are advancing knowledge in their respective fields, asking and answering questions that challenge the status quo and seeking to improve patient care. It is essential research made possible by generous donors and the investment of funding agencies.