Field of Research
Ischemic brain damage caused by stroke and other vascular diseases often results in various long-term neuropsychological deficits including cognitive impairment and emotional disorders which are known to be strongly associated with greater disability and a poor functional outcome and life dissatisfaction. Stroke survivors are commonly affected by executive function impairment but more importantly, they are highly at risk for general cognition and memory deficits. In addition, the elevated prevalence of cardiovascular disease, with the increase of the aging population and the decrease in cardiovascular mortality associated with improved treatments, contributes to the rising number of patients with long-lasting cognitive impairments. Yet, little is known about strategies, especially behavioural approaches, to preserve and to recover cognition in this group. Thus the principal research objective of our laboratory is to elucidate the behavioural and physiological/molecular strategies central to recovery of cognitive impairment following ischemic lesion. This research conducted using animal models of stroke enable to control rehabilitation measures and associated changes in brain plasticity and functional recovery.
We primarily use global cerebral ischemia in rats to induce specific brain lesions. Our laboratory is equipped with several measures of cognitive performance in animals. Among others, these tests include the Morris Water Maze, Barnes Maze, Radial Maze and Open Field. A big part of our research also incorporates the study of molecular and cellular mechanisms related to behavioural performance using immunohistochemical detection and fluorescence microscopy imaging techniques, Western blotting, histology and stains to visualize neuronal structures after ischemic injury.
Fundamental questions addressed in our research include:
- What are the effects of prophylactic treatments such as caloric restriction and diet supplements (i.e., polyunsaturated fatty acids or resveratrol) on functional recovery of ischemic rats?
- At what intensity and timing cognitive rehabilitation by administration of specific behavioural & memory tasks can foster improved functional recovery?
- What are the endogenous repair processes of the brain underlying cognitive recovery post stroke?
Answers to these questions will not only reveal mechanisms underlying neuronal protection and recovery of learning and memory processes following stroke, but will also provide insight into the molecular signals involved in such processes.