Professor Michael Nilsson, MD, PhD

Director, Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI), University of Newcastle and Hunter New England Health, Newcastle, Australia

Title: "Emerging avenues in stroke rehabilitation – focus on recovery and secondary neurodegeneration"

Abstract: There is an urgent need to increase the effectiveness of rehabilitative therapies after stroke.  Environmental enrichment (EE) - a multimodal approach comprising physical, social and cognitive activity - is a very promising strategy that also is broadly deployable.  Multimodal stimulation promotes and underpins brain plasticity and reorganisation, and we are now in the phase of translating the positive effects of EE to humans. A multitude of cellular reactions is underpinning the beneficial effects of EE on functional recovery after stroke. Until recently, research on brain plasticity has been focused on the functions of neurons, in particular the functions of the synapse. However, astrocytes, microglia, neural progenitors and vasculature are examples of other key elements in plasticity, and different types of interventions such as EE will activate these cells. The post-stroke phase is heterogeneous demonstrating components of both recovery and of further deterioration. Tissue death was historically considered to be confined to the first few weeks following a stroke, but it has now become apparent that CNS tissue continues to be lost for many months after the initial stroke event. This delayed tissue loss occurs not primarily at the initial blockage site but rather within regions and projection areas quite distant from the infarct. This process is known as secondary neurodegeneration (SND) and it has consistently been identified in humans following stroke. In experimental stroke models, including work published by our own group, SND is occurring without exception. SND is characterised not only by loss of CNS tissue but also with the later emergence of cognitive deterioration and dementia-like symptomology. New translational opportunities to influence plasticity, recovery and degeneration in patients will be discussed at the seminar.

About Neuroscience Seminars

Neuroscience seminars at the QBI play a major role in the advancement of neuroscience in the Asia-Pacific region. The primary goal of these seminars is to promote excellence in neuroscience through the exchange of ideas, establishing new collaborations and augmenting partnerships already in place.

Seminars in the QBI Auditorium on Level 7 are held on Wednesdays at 12-1pm, which are sometimes simulcast on Zoom (with approval from the speaker). We also occassionally hold seminars from international speakers via Zoom. The days and times of these seminars will vary depending on the time zone of the speaker. Please see each seminar listed below for details. 


Neuroscience Seminars archive 2005-2018