Ferrier Prize Lecture
By Dr Marc Tessier-Lavigne FRS
The brain is the most complex organ in our bodies. It is made up of close to a trillion nerve cells (or neurons), each of which makes connections with, on average, hundreds of other nerve cells, to form the complex neuronal circuits that control all brain activities, including perception, emotion, the control of movement, and consciousness.
Remarkably, this pattern of connections among nerve cells is highly precise, and arises during embryonic and fetal development through the actions of specific molecules that control the formation of these connections. Defects in this process can lead to brain miswiring, which may result in neurological or psychiatric disorders.
In this talk, I will describe recent advances in identifying the molecules that direct the formation of neuronal circuits, and how this knowledge is providing tools to help regenerate neuronal connections following trauma or injury to the nervous system, including paralyzing injuries to the spinal cord.