L'odorat comme marqueur de la réorganisation cérébrale

 

Johannes Frasnelli

Centre de recherche de l'Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal

 

Domaine : neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 1

Concours 2015-2016

Physiological, pathological and environmental factors continuously shape the human brain. In fact, the nervous system reorganizes its structure, functions and connections as a response to stimuli from outside or within the brain, a mechanism called neuroplasticity. Some diseases lead to the decline of nervous tissue volume or quality (neurodegeneration); on the other hand the nervous system possesses the ability to restore its function following damage (neural regeneration). We know that olfaction is closely associated with functional and structural characteristics of several brain regions. As a consequence, olfactory performance gets worse with neurodegeneration and better with neural regeneration. The aim of the present program is to examine the extent of which measuring olfactory performance provides information on neuronal plasticity and resulting changes to brain structure.

Specifically, we will investigate the link between olfactory function, cognitive performance, structural brain changes and outcome in three specific medical conditions, which will serve as models for (1) neurodegeneration, (2) spontaneous neuronal regeneration and (3) induced neuronal regeneration. The studies proposed in this research program are innovative on several levels as they will help us to understand regeneration and degeneration in the brain, to comprehend how certain diseases affect the brain, and to develop convenient tools for screening and prognostics in several medical conditions. As opposed to other potential tools olfactory tests are practical (performed bed side), quick (<1 hour), and low priced (in the range of few dollars per test).