2014 Funding Round – Project

Dr Melanie Cheung
The University of Auckland
Augmenting neuroplasticity in the Huntington's disease brain
36 months

Lay summary

There is evidence to suggest Huntington’s disease (HD), a progressive neurodegenerative disease that results in deterioration of movement, personality, thinking and eventually death, is at least twice the rate in Māori than non-Māori. We have been working in partnership with a large Taranaki Maori HD Whanau, who after six years of building relationship, are eager for us to begin developing treatments together. Currently the most promising brain disease treatments harness neuroplasticity, the brain's powerful ability to change and adapt itself. Our research project brings together Taranaki Māori Whanau, HD scientists and clinicians from Centre for Brain Research (Auckland University) and Brain Plasticity Institute (San Francisco) to develop computer-based brain exercises that augment neuroplasticity in the brains of people with Huntington’s disease to ultimately slow the course of the disease. Our methods will include Kaupapa Māori approaches to brain imaging, neuropsychology and clinical care (neurology, psychiatry and nursing).

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