Neurosciences, cognitive sciences, neurology and psychiatry

This Institute studies all the scientific and medical fields to do with the central and peripheral nervous system, its development, functioning, aging and diseases.

Scientific challenges

The major challenge of neurosciences is to analyze and assimilate the complexity of the nervous system to gain insight into the neural bases of higher cognitive functions and behaviors.

Beyond the economic benefits that the community could gain from stepping up support for research on neurosciences, our understanding of the nervous system is a major challenge and remains a "barrier" to knowledge.

The neural code, behaviors and thought
Modeling the "neural code" is crucial if we are to grasp the way in which the functional interaction of nerve cells between themselves and with the environment produces higher functions such as perception and cognition.

Development, plasticity and aging of the nervous system
Genes interact with the environment at every stage when the functional nervous system is forming and contributes to its plasticity over time. This approach is closely tied in with cracking the "neural code" and is primarily aimed at:

  • Determining the respective role of genetic and epigenetic factors in the development of the nervous system;
  • Analyzing the characteristics of neural stem cells;
  • Understanding the dynamics and plasticity of the neurone, synaptogenesis and neuronal assemblies during development, in adults, during aging and in neuropsychiatric diseases.



Interview of Philippe Amouyel, Director of the Alzheimer's Foundation of Scientific Cooperation.

The complementary nature of questions arising in the fundamental and clinical neuroscience field also stresses the need to reduce the space between fundamental discovery and therapeutic application. An objective subject to the development of translational research that will free up the practical application of scientific discoveries and vice versa.





Medical challenges

Progress in our knowledge of the symptoms and causes of nervous system disorders has enabled us to determine their extent and frequency better.

Three main disorders can be distinguished:

  • Neurological diseases:
    Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, strokes and other neurodegenerative diseases;
  • Psychiatric diseases:
     anxiety, depression, addiction, schizophrenia, autism, obsessive compulsive disorders. These affect 27% of the population;
  • Deficiencies of the sense organs:
    visual deficiencies for 2 million patients, or hearing deficiencies for 4 million.

The economic impact of these diseases accounts for a third of the human cost of diseases in Europe.

In the cerebellum, granule neurons (pink) are all found in the granular layer and are absent from the molecular layer (green) ; © Inserm, A. Chédotal

In the cerebellum, granule neurons (pink) are all found in the granular layer and are absent from the molecular layer (green).


Directors : Etienne Hirsch, Bernard Poulain

Policy officer: Kim Nguyen Ba-Charvet
Project Manager GIS Autisme et Troubles du Neurodéveloppement : Paul Olivier
Project Manager ERANET NEURON : Frédérique Sueur

Newsletter ITMO Neuro

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