Centre for Brain Research


Executive health: Brain centre studies ageing

National Business Review, 23 May 2014

Tertiary Education Commission funding will create a new Centre for Research Excellence (CoRE) to study the effects of ageing on the brain and ways to improve brain health. It will be called Brain Research New Zealand - Rangahau Roro Aotearoa- and co-hosted by the University of Auckland and the Univesity of Otago with Distinguished Professor Richard Faull (Auckland) and Professor Cliff Abraham (Otago) as co-directors. 

Students use drugs to boost marks

NZ Herald, 13 June 2014

New Zealand university students are turning to potentially harmful drugs to get ahead in their studies, new research shows. In a survey of University of Auckland students, 6 per cent said they had used "cognitive enhancer" drugs to try to boost concentration and exam marks.

Millions in funding for new CoREs of learning

NZ Herald, 8 May 2014

The Tertiary Education Commission has today revealed the six Centres of Research Excellence (CoRES) which will get access to millions of dollars in funding. The CoREs fund - established in 2001 to encourage the development of excellent tertiary education-based research - provides operating expenditure of just under $210 million over six years, with funding beginning next year and continuing until 2020.

Game on

NZ Listener, 20 March 2014

Auckland researchers are heading an inter­national controlled trial to see if a modified version of the popular video game Tetris can treat lazy eye, or ambylopia. If proven to work, it will be a boon for children and their parents.

Brain Awareness Week: Babies get second chance

NZ Herald
10 March 2014

Oxygen-deprived babies born with brain damage could make miraculous recoveries thanks to research that aims to help prevent the injury spreading.  The study by University of Auckland research fellow Dr Joanne Davidson could prevent babies dying or growing up severely disabled by stopping the spread of damaged brain cells caused by a lack of oxygen before or during birth.  Newborns are much more tolerant than adults of oxygen deprivation, suffering brain injury only after 15 to 20 minutes without oxygen before or during birth.

Brain Awareness Week: Scientists begin to unlock Parkinson's mystery

NZ Herald
10 March 2014

The brains of patients with Parkinson's disease who had deep brain stimulation treatment produced new stem cells, according to new research.  The discovery is the first step to unlocking how the treatment works.  The study, a collaboration between scientists at the universities of Auckland and Florida, showed one reason why Parkinson's sufferers' symptoms improved with the treatment.  Dr Maurice Curtis, a senior lecturer in anatomy at the University of Auckland's Centre for Brain Research, said the study showed treatment increased the level of plasticity in the brain.

Different strokes

New Zealand Listener
30 November 2013

Treatment for strokes has leapt ahead in the past 20 years, but seeking treatment as soon as possible is crucial. News that cannabis might cause strokes certainly attracted a lot of attention the Time magazine picked up on it, along with the Boston Globe, even Fox News.  But it was never going to be the kind of news that would be appreciated in all quarters. "Propaganda masquerades as study," suggested one 'wise-cracker' in the online comments under the Time article, one of many to express either disbelief or scorn. 

Zinc treatment for autism study receives Marsden Fund Grant

NZ Doctor
6 November 2013

A New Zealand study on the use of zinc to treat autism is one of 109 studies awarded a slice of the Marsden Fund worth $59 million.  University of Auckland Physiology senior lecturer Johanna Montgomery, in collaboration with Stanford University Neurology Professor Craig Garner, will recieve $739,130 of the fund for a three year study on Shank proteins.

New projects to receive funding from Marsden Fund

NZ Herald
29 October 2013

Kiwi research investigating links between zinc and autism is one of more than 100 projects awarded nearly $60 million in funding under the just-announced Marsden Fund for the next three years. The autism research, awarded $740,000, is a collaboration between Auckland University researcher Dr Johanna Montgomery and Professor Craig Garner from Stanford University in the US.

Don't try this at home

New Zealand Listener
26 October 2013

Be aware of devices that claim to improve cognitive ability by neuro-stimulation. If you believe what people say on the internet, there is a simple way to improve your cognitive abilities with devices based on the principles of transcranial direct-current stimulation, or tDCS.  One US company is now selling tDCS headsets, aimed at gamers, that promise to make their "synapses fire faster" and presumably increase their chances of raiding more tombs.

The great gene quest

New Zealand Listener
10 October 2013

A scientist working on a shoestring budget in a cramped Dunedin office has taken a ground-breaking step towards healing babies born with brain damage. In the week that New Zealanders watched victory dissolve into defeat on the waters of San Francisco Bay, Professor Stephen Robertson came to work as normal in his cramped Dunedin laboratory, filled with a sense of quiet satisfaction that his own small team had once again achieved a world-class win.

Sing your heart out

New Zealand Listener
21 September 2013 

For suffers of stroke and conditions as Parkinson's disease, singing can improve their speech and quality of life. Singing has been in the news again, with studies showing that it can reduce snoring, help people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, and even calm the heart as effectively as meditative yoga. But is it as good for us as recent headlines suggest?

"Remarkable Gifts" kick start neurosurgery campaign

Ingenio alumni magazine of the University of Auckland
Spring 2013

Two Dames, seven Knights and two knighted All Balcks, Chorales from the University of Auckland Chamber Choir and many exciting gift announcements where all part of a gala cocktail evening on 17 September to launch a campaign for an inaugural Chair of Neurosurgery.

Sheep trials may find therapy for Huntington's

NZ Herald
17 September 2013

Scientists are preparing to test a potential therapy for Huntington's disease in sheep that have been genetically modified to carry the mutation that causes the disease. Researchers at the Auckland University Centre for Brain Research are at the heart of the Huntington's sheep project. They developed the first large-animal model of a neurological disorder, although the flock is at a research institute in South Australia and has been made available for international studies.

$8m target to develop brain research strategy

NZ Herald
17 September 2013

When patients have a certain kind of brain surgery to treat epilepsy at Auckland City Hospital, some of the tissue, with their consent, is sent over the road to the Auckland University for research. The operation removes part of the temporal lobe. It is the most common operation to treat epilepsy and has a reasonably good cure rate: up to 70 per cent of patients are left free of seizures that impair consciousness or cause abnormal movements.

Unlocking the secrets of our brains

NZ Herald
7 September 2013

Within moments of sitting down in his office,  Professor Richard Faull whips out a human brain, places it on the desk between us and announces,  "Here it is," in the manner of someone displaying their most-prized possession.  And that it is.  The brain is Faull's life's work, and that of many others involved in the University of Auckland's Centre for Brain Research, of which he is the director. It's what sets humans apart from other animals, enables us to build cities and fly to the moon.

Kiwi team seeking dna to unlock mysteries of autism

15 August 2013

In launching the ambitious and ground breaking research, the local team join the international race to find the underlying biological causes for ASD, a life-long condition which is estimated to affect 45,000 New Zealanders. With some world-renowned geneticists at the helm, the local team believe they have as good a chance of making a breakthrough as their international counterparts. The “Minds for Minds” campaign, created by WhybinTBWA, launched at The University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research on Monday evening and aims to encourage all New Zealanders on the spectrum to register on their database. Some will then be contacted to have their human genome sequenced.

Deborah Hill Cone: Claude's autistic and I love him

NZ Herald
12 August 2013

There's a saying in autism circles that a worried mother does better research than the FBI. This may be doubly true of my sister, Rosamund Hill. She is the mother of an autistic child, but she is also a neurologist, with a research doctorate. Tonight she's part of a group of scientists launching Minds for Minds, a new initiative aiming to unlock the mystery of autism. Notice I said "unlocking" rather than "curing". Through the Centre for Brain Research, Minds for Minds is building a database of autistic people, then sequencing their DNA, to try to better understand the genetic basis of autism. (Call to action, folks! Please register!)

Unlocking the causes of autism spectrum disorder

12 August 2013

Leading scientists from The University of Auckland are working to unlock the causes of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and they're encouraging people who are affected to take part in their research.  The Autism Research Network of New Zealand's "Minds for Minds" campaign will be launched on Monday 12 August at the University's Centre for Brain Research. This is a unique community-researcher partnership with the aim of bringing together researchers, health professionals and the community from across the country to facilitate understanding and treatment options for ASD.

Kiwi team seeking DNA to unlock mysteries of autism

12 August 2013

Kiwi Team seeking DNA to embark on a quest to unlock mysteries of autism.  A group of New Zealand scientists are chasing down the causes of ASD (autism spectrum disorder). Part of this work is seeking DNA from kiwis affected by ASD in an effort to uncover the keys to autism.  In launching the ambitious and groundbreaking research, the local team join the international race to find the underlying biological causes for ASD, a life-long condition which is estimated to affect 45,000 New Zealanders.

Look who's thinking

NZ Herald
10 August 2013

An animation expert who created digital faces for Avatar and King Kong wants his computer baby to develop a life of its own. Mark Sagar talks to Andrew Laxon about the cute new face of artificial intelligence.  "It has a vision system, so if we wave around here, it'll look at that," he says, moving his hand in front of a camera on a desktop monitor.  On the screen below, a lifelike image of a baby breaks into a smile. Sagar points to a series of graphs on the right, tracing the neurochemical reactions in the baby's simulated brain.

NZ scientists picked to delve into autism mysteries

August 2013

A crack team of scientists has been formed in Auckland in a bid to lead the world's autism research.  The group will join the international race to find the underlying biological causes for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), a lifelong condition estimated to affect 45,000 New Zealanders. Part of their work will be seeking DNA from Kiwis affected by the disorder in an effort to uncover the keys to autism. With some world-renowned geneticists at the helm of the "Minds for Minds" campaign, the team believe they have as good a chance of making a breakthrough as their international counterparts.

Hugging these TEDs can be a cult-like experiencece

NZ Herald
5 August 2013

Oops, I seem to have accidentally joined a cult. This is disturbing. I don't go to church. I don't like sport. I suspect I may be deficient in oxytocin receptors; oxytocin being the cuddly hormone that spurts when your rugby team wins.  Yet, here I am. I've given up part of my individualistic weekend - taking my children to swimming lessons - to spend my Saturday sitting in a darkened auditorium with 2000 other people - "my tribe" - getting inspired at a thing called TEDx.

Scientist to show off his digital techno baby

NZ Herald
3 August 2013

A New Zealand scientist has developed a computerised digital "baby" which can laugh, cry and interact with the people around it. Dr Mark Sagar, who has pioneered work on computer-generated faces in movies such as Avatar and King Kong, will demonstrate his latest project, dubbed Baby X, at today's TEDx Auckland ideas conference at the Aotea Centre. The Auckland University researcher said the project used theoretical models of the brain to create emotions on a digital human face.

Stem cells uncover brain disease clues

National Business Review
26 July 2013

The development of new drugs for improving Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease is a step closer because of University of Auckland research into how stem cells migrate and form circuits in the brain. The results from a study by researchers at the university's Centre for Brain Research may hold important clues into why there is less plasticity in brains affected by Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease and links to insulin resistance and diabetes.

NZ scientists in Alzheimer's breakthrough 

NZ Herald
18 July 2013

Auckland neuro-scientists have made important discoveries in how Alzheimer's and Parkinson's may affect the brain; work which has prompted preliminary experiments with drugs they hope could help people who have the diseases. The Auckland University team investigated how stem cells move around the brain and become connected to other cells, forming circuits for thinking, movement and other brain functions. Stem cells can develop into other types of cells to replace those damaged or destroyed.

Aucklanders sought to lose weight, avoid diabetes

The Aucklander, NZ Herald
11 July 2013

An international three-year study to determine the best lifestyle strategies for weight loss and diabetes prevention is about to begin in Auckland, and researchers from The University of Auckland are seeking local people to take part. Participants who come into the study will be overweight, and can expect to lose a significant amount of that weight and avoid developing diabetes, as well as learning a new way of eating and exercising which they may choose to maintain for the rest of their lives.


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