For decades the conventional wisdom of neuroscience held that our brain is hardwired, fixed and immutable, but new findings in the last 20 years leave no doubt that – on the contrary – our brain is dramatically plastic; it can adapt, rewire, heal, renew, and, even into old age, not only change its structure but also generate new neurons. It is important to realize that as frightening as Alzheimer disease is, according to Dr. Whitehouse, a prominent neuropsychologist at Johns Hopkins University, “it is not even a single condition to be called a disease; therefore searching only for biological solutions (i.e., medications, gene therapies) is a false hope.” We have to think of brain health and preventing dementia as a lifetime perspective that pays much more attention to the quality of our environment than the quality of our genes. The key to future solutions for healthy brain aging is going to be a multidisciplinary approach. We know that significant rehabilitation changes in the brain can occur across life – basically to the end of life.
Dr. Moussavi is a Canada Research Chair in Biomedical Engineering with special interest in early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and neurorehabilitation. She is also an expert in sleep apnea and respiratory sounds analysis. Human diseases and neurological disorders are betrayed by symptoms that can be detected by biomedical technologies. Dr. Moussavi has developed novel technologies to be used for early detection of dementia in general and Alzheimer in particular, home-care devices for rehabilitation of people with spinal cord injuries, quick and simple screening methods for sleep apnea detection during wakefulness and also non-invasive technique for detecting swallowing disorders. As varied as her focused research area may seem, they all share the same thread of development of biomedical technologies for non-invasive and early detection of diseases that are challenging to be diagnosed. The key outcome of her works is to improve quality of life especially for aging population.