Harnessing the brain's power to heal itself focus of international research conference in Toronto March 4 - 6, 2013

TORONTO, March 4, 2013 /CNW/ - Scientists from all over the world are meeting this week at The Westin Harbour Castle in Toronto for a three-day conference focused on Brain Plasticity and Neurorehabilitation.

The 23rd annual neuroscience conference, presented by Baycrest Health Sciences' Rotman Research Institute (RRI), will highlight provocative findings in two related fields - brain plasticity and neurorehabilitation - which are yielding new ways to help people affected by stroke, traumatic brain injury, dementia, Parkinson's disease and depression.

Brain plasticity is a relatively recent concept which suggests that an injured brain and nervous system can heal itself under the right circumstances. Neurorehabilitation refers to therapies aimed at improving quality of life after cognitive or other damage to the brain using specific types of training and brain stimulation combined with behavioural therapy. The goal is to restore lost or damaged functions such as speech or comprehension, or to help people compensate by enhancing other skills.

"We believe this is the next exciting frontier in medicine," says conference co-chair Dr. Deirdre Dawson, a senior scientist at Baycrest's RRI and an associate professor in the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Toronto. "Our progress in treating many neurological and psychiatric disorders is rooted in understanding the basic mechanisms of neuroplasticity."

Although the idea that the brain can change is not new, evidence showing these changes in the adult brain is more recent. There is now clear and sometimes quite dramatic evidence that the adult brain can alter existing neural pathways and even create new ones. This holds enormous implications for the diagnosis, treatment and management of many health problems.

For the full list of speakers and conference itinerary:

Three leaders in the fields of brain plasticity and neurorehablitation will address the conference. They are: Dr. Bryan Kolb, University of Lethbridge, Canada [Harnessing the Power of Neuroplasticity for Intervention]; Dr. Leah Krubitzer, University of California at Davis, U.S., [Cortical Plasticity Within and Across Lifetimes: A Comparative Approach]; and Dr. Barbara Wilson, Medical Research Council, Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge U.K. [Principles of Cognitive Neurorehabilitation.]

A Public Lecture will be held as part of the conference program this year. Learn how bilingualism can help delay dementia will be presented by world-renowned cognitive scientists Drs. Ellen Bialystok and Fergus Craik, on Tuesday, March 5 at 6:00 pm at The Westin Harbour Castle.

To receive an electronic copy of press kit materials by email - including story ideas and scientific speaker abstracts and posters - please contact: kconnelly@baycrest.org. Media planning to attend any part of the conference downtown are required to sign in at the conference registration desk, The Westin Harbour Castle, 1 Harbour St., Toronto. Interviews with conference presenters can be arranged with the on-site media officer.

About Baycrest
Baycrest Health Sciences is an academic health sciences centre, internationally renowned for its care of aging adults and for excellence in aging brain research, clinical interventions and promising cognitive rehabilitation strategies.

SOURCE: Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care

For further information:

For more information on the conference, please contact:

Kelly Connelly, Senior Media Officer
Baycrest Health Sciences
Cell at conference: 416-882-5307
Office: 416-785-2432


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