Research which considers the diversity of normal and diseased human populations is contributing to more resilient hypotheses regarding complex neuroscience processes, such as human brain development, autism spectrum disorders, and Alzheimer's disease. Several interwoven examples will be discussed on Sunday, November 12, 2–3 p.m. at Neuroscience 2023, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
Considering the full spectrum of human variability — including gender, sex, race, ethnicity, and neurodiversity — is benefiting neuroscience at both the basic and translational levels. Ongoing efforts are pushing to ensure these aspects of human diversity are present along the length of the research pipeline from study design to publication.
Speakers will discuss how:
- The inclusion of previously underrepresented demographic groups in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study reveals novel insights into child health and brain development. (Nora Volkow, National Institute on Drug Abuse)
- The development of precision medicine for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders will require studying and reporting sex differences in symptoms, progression, biomarkers, risk factors, and treatment. (Roberta Diaz Brinton, University of Arizona)
- Nature and the Nature Portfolio are improving the representation of people from diverse and underrepresented groups as both research participants and authors/peer reviewers. (Mary Elizabeth Sutherland, Nature)
- Brain organoids from patient-derived stem cells reveal distinct subtypes of autism spectrum disorder characterized by differences in excitatory and inhibitory neurogenesis. (Flora Vaccarino, Yale University)
- Considering sex as a biological variable addresses historical imbalances and helps enhance reproducibility, rigor, and transparency in research. (Janine Austin Clayton, National Institutes of Health)
“Inclusion of previously understudied and underrepresented populations is contributing to several research fields reassessing our current understanding of typical and atypical brain function,” says Damien Fair, a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota and the co-director of the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain. “Researchers are finding that inclusion of diverse populations is providing new insights and more generalizable and inclusive scientific findings that have historically been taken for granted or missed — similar to how inclusion of diverse individuals within a team can lead to 'outside-the-box' discoveries.”
The research presented in this briefing was supported by national funding agencies including the National Institutes of Health and private funding organizations. Find out more about social behavior and the brain on BrainFacts.org. The content of this press release is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 35,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and the nervous system.