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Sensory Therapeutics

The focus of this research theme is the development of therapeutic interventions to compensate for the loss of sensory and/or motor function. Whether through injury or illness, the loss of sight, hearing, speech, feeling and movement have a devastating impact on an individual’s quality of life. Understanding how such functions might be restored following their loss (or provided, if absent from birth) would represent a significant achievement, and explains the significant research endeavour in the fields of neurology and neuro-medicine. The sheer complexity required in understanding the bases of sensory and motor function, however, will require significant changes in the manner by which therapeutic interventions in sensory and motor disorders are investigated.

A common conceptual framework by which therapeutic interventions in sensory processing might be understood lies in what might be termed “Information Therapy”. Determining how best to restore normal patterns of neural input following the loss or degradation of sensory receptors – whether through prosthetic devices, genetic or cell-based interventions, or both – requires an understanding of the form of the neural code and the specific transformations provided for by sensory end-organs that underpin performance in complex sensory and motor tasks. The contribution of ion channels to neural behaviour, the contribution of individual neurons, populations of neurons, and their connections to behaviour at the level of a sensory system, and the extent to which these behaviours are amenable to modification following loss of function requires a Systems Biology approach.

Page last modified on 26 jul 10 16:12


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