Understanding the evolution of the brain and the central nervous system (CNS) has always been a key research interest as it reflects the importance of identification of mechanistic basis of crucial processes including learning, memory, perception and reactions in normal and dysfunctional conditions. This field of research has been well recognized for long time however several aspects of the connection and the communication between the neurons are yet to be identified. In addition, bridging the brain and mind and translating the neural mechanisms to neurocognitive functions represents the main pathway to draw futuristic prospects to understand the mental capacities.
Several studies have highlighted the significance of neuroscience in the educational and learning experiences which are strongly associated with neural changes in response to various learning tasks (neuroplasticity) and production of new neurons (neurogenesis). It is evident that the involvement of multiple brain regions and recruitment of substantial number of neurons to support the learning experiences are associated with higher functions such as memory and executive function.
The control of the centralized brain reaches beyond the CNS and influences various reactions via sophisticated networks including spinal cord and neuroendocrine systems. These systems establish informed bodily decisions about several stimuli including stress and manipulate the awareness and production of appropriate responses. Dysfunction of the neural systems at any level jeopardizes the critical involvement of the CNS in tuning of a wide range of vital neurophysiological, behavioral and neurocognitive processes. The global burden of the neuropsychiatric and neurological disorders has been fully appreciated by several international health organizations given the serious consequences for individuals, their families, and the healthcare systems. Specifically, neuropsychiatric disorders are the leading cause of disability in the United States, accounting for almost 19% of all years of life lost due to disability and premature death. Depression affects nearly 300 million people globally, and suicide as one of its worst outcomes, it is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-old individuals. Overall, nearly 800,000 people of all ages worldwide die by suicide every year. Among the population in the UAE, the prevalence of depression is reported to be 12.5–28.6% and depression has been shown to be one of the top three causes of disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) as per the Global Burden of Disease study (GBD Profile: United Arab Emirates, 2010).
Worldwide, more than 50 million people are living with dementia and every 3 seconds there is a new case of dementia and the projection for dementia and other neurological disorders is alarming. Compared to the rest of the world, few studies in the United Arab Emirates have focused on the pathogenesis and the prevalence of these disorders and this accounts for the limited advances in research and implementation of specialized care and management plans in the clinical practice.
The pathophysiological mechanisms underlying brain disorders range from disruption of molecular pathways and homeostatic neural environment to dysfunctional communication between higher-order neural networks. In this context, sustained neuroinflammation is a common hallmark shared by a large spectrum of incurable disorders including Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, multiple sclerosis, and migraine. Prevention and development of effective treatments represents a challenge due to the lack of knowledge about the processes driving the etiology, pathogenesis, and progression of these diseases.
Recognizing the necessity of advanced research in this field, we, as faculty members at the medical, pharmacy and health science colleges at University of Sharjah and University Hospital Sharjah, aim at launching a "Neurosciences and Neuropsychiatry Research Group" that will examine diverse aspects of CNS research at the basic and clinical levels.