Understanding how the brain functions is undoubtedly one of the most exciting challenges science has to offer, as the brain is not just the most complex structure of the living world, but also plays a major role in what distinguishes us as humans. But understanding the brain is also a major societal issue, with societies confronted by the scourge of neurological diseases, and in particular neurodegenerative diseases associated with aging.
What is at stake is, for example, to understand how 20,000 genes control the "wiring" of billions of synapses linking up our neurons, what influence the environment has on brain development, from embryo to the young adult, and on age-related degradations, and which mechanisms lead to such diseases as epilepsy, autism, addiction or Alzheimer.
To explain how the brain works - or doesn't work -, we need to study the different mechanisms at work on very different scales, from genes to neurons, neural circuits, perception, behaviour and consciousness. Neuroscience research is thus eminently multidisciplinary, ranging from molecular processes to cognitive science, via neurophysiology and neuro-imaging.
At the ULB, all this expertise is gathered together in the ULB Neuroscience Institute (UNI), the home of more than 150 researchers coming from 17 research groups from four faculties. UNI research relies on clinical research. It has at its disposal an exceptional equipment park, including functional magnetic resonance imaging, electro-encephalography and magneto-encephalography, and enabling the study of how neurons function when executing a specific action, with a temporal resolution in the order of one millisecond.
Main research projects (since 2010)
Actions de recherche concertée, ARC
Interuniversity Attraction Pole, IAP
Regional projects (> 500 Keuros)
Chair (> 500 Keuros)
Main prizes and international recognition (since 1970)