Consensus Document on European Brain Research


Professor Monica Di Luca, Department of Pharmacological Sciences, University of Milano, Via Balzaretti, 9, 20133 Milano, Italy


Psychiatric and neurological diseases combined represent a considerable social and economic burden in Europe. A recent study conducted by the European Brain Council (EBC) quantified the ‘cost and burden’ of major brain diseases in Europe, amounting to €386bn per year. Considering that these costs will increase exponentially in the years to come due to ageing of the European population, it is necessary to act now in order to curb this increase and possibly reverse the trend. Thus, establishing a strong European platform supporting basic and clinical research in neuroscience is needed to confront the economic and social challenge posed by management of brain diseases in European countries. To setup a platform for discussion, EBC published in 2006 a Consensus Document on European Brain Research, describing needs and achievements of research in Europe and presenting proposals for future research programs. Since 2006, European research in neuroscience has advanced tremendously. The present document represents an update elaborated to reflect changes in research priorities and advances in brain research that have taken place since 2006. The same approach and format have been used here as in the previous version. Multinational and multidisciplinary teams have once again come together to express their views, not only on the current strengths in European research, but also on what needs to be done in priority, hoping that this update will inspire policy makers and stakeholders in directing funding for research in Europe.

Chapter I: Brain development, plasticity and ageing in health and disease
I.1 – From developmental disorders, fetal, perinatal and postnatal insults, to genetics and basic mechanisms of brain development
I.2 – From ADHD, autism and their animal models to signalling mechanisms and genetics
I.3 – From speech disturbances to basic mechanisms of language
I.4 – From learning and memory to long-term potentiation, synaptic plasticity and other basic cellular mechanisms
I.5 – From normal ageing to basic mechanisms of longevity
I.6 – Stem cell research: from application in human disease to basic mechanisms
Chapter II – Mind-brain relationships and mental disorders
II.1 – From mood disorders and normal mood to animal models, signalling mechanisms and genetics
II.2 – From anxiety disorders, fear and avoidance to animal models, signalling mechanisms and genetics
II.3 – From addiction and normal pleasure-seeking to animal models, signalling mechanisms and genetics
II.4 – From schizophrenia and normal thinking to animal models, signalling mechanisms and genetics
II.5 – From sleep disorders and normal sleep to animal models, signalling mechanisms and genetics
II.6 – From eating disorders and obesity to brain mechanisms of appetite regulation
II.7 – From obsessive-compulsive disorder and normal carefulness and cleanliness to basic mechanisms of such personality characteristics
II.8 – From coma, vegetative state and brain death to mechanisms of alertness
II.9 – New vistas in violence research
Chapter III – Degeneration and repair in the brain
III.1 – From Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias to basic mechanisms of neurodegeneration
III.2 – From Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders to the cure of basal ganglia degeneration
III.3 – From stroke to basic mechanisms of post-ischaemic neuronal death
III.4 – From epilepsy to basic mechanisms of neuronal excitability and cell death
III.5 – From multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory disorders to basic mechanisms of neuro-immunology
III.6 – From bovine spongiform encephalopathy and Creuzfeldt-Jakob disease to prions and normal brain protein homeostasis
III.7 – From head trauma to the basic mechanisms of traumatic brain damage
III.8 – From functional brain recovery to neural plasticity, growth factors and other basic mechanisms of brain repair
III.9 – From brain tumours to normal mechanisms of brain cell proliferation
III.10 – From peripheral neuropathies and muscle diseases to normal function and genetics of nerve and muscle
III.11 – From spinal cord injury to basic spinal cord mechanisms
Chapter IV – Revealing pain mechanisms and their control
IV.1 – From migraine and other headaches to neurovascular regulation and basic mechanisms of head pain
IV.2 – From chronic pain to mechanisms of nociception and its control
Chapter V – Rehabilitation, psychological care and prevention
V.1 – Improving life for people with brain disease: psychosocial aspects
V.2 – Improving life for people with brain disease: medical and medicotechnical possibilities enabling participation in life and removing the stigma associated with having a brain disease
V.3 – From physical, occupational and speech rehabilitation to plasticity of the motor coordination and speech systems
V.4 – Prevention of brain diseases and trauma
V.5 – Ethics
Chapter VI – Sensory systems and autonomic disturbances
VI.1,2,3 – Disturbances and diseases of sensory system
VI.4 – From bladder, sexual and other vegetative disturbances to function and basic aspects of the autonomous nervous system
Chapter VII – Towards a better diagnostics and therapeutic approach: enabling technologies
VII.1 – Molecular imaging: from human and animals to mechanisms at cellular and biochemical levels
VII.2 – Neuro-imaging: from clinical application to basic principles
VII.3 – Identification of blood-based biomarkers to aid diagnosis of psychiatric disorders
VII.4 – Drug delivery to the brain: from human use and clinical experiments to cellular mechanisms
VII.5 – Neurogenesis, neuromodulation and neurostimulation of the brain
VII.6 – Nanotechnology: from basic science to brain application
VII.7 – Brain mechanisms and applications of brain-machine interfaces
VII.8 – From neural networks, oscillations and coding to neuro-informatics

Chapter I: Brain development, plasticity and ageing in health and disease Section Editor: Monica Di Luca

Chapter II: Mind-brain relationships and mental disorders Section editor: Julien Mendlewicz

Chapter III: Degeneration and repair in the brain Section editor: Manfred Westphal

Chapter IV: Revealing pain mechanisms and their control Section editor: Jes Olesen

Chapter V: Rehabilitation, psychological care and prevention Section Editor: Mary Baker

Chapter VI: Sensory systems and autonomic disturbances Section editor: Renato Corradetti

Chapter VII: Towards a better diagnostic and therapeutic approach: enabling technologies Section editor: Ian Ragan


The authors are particularly grateful to the contributing experts for their invaluable efforts and help, to Evelyn Sipido and Luana Cremascoli for their dedication to this document and to Laura Spinney for her matchless help in editing.

Contributing experts

Ackerberg J

Adan R*

Anders B

Arango C

Azouvi P

Bagni C*

Bain P

Baird G

Baker M

Baldwin D

Balta T

Barnes M*

Baulac M

Billiard M

Birbaumer N*

Bjorklund A

Bloom S

Bobbeldijk M

Boeye F

Boon P*

Bourgeron T

Brainin M

Buitelaar J

Bunting C

Butler A*

Calabresi P*

Caltagirone C*

Cappa S*

Castren E*

Cattaneo E

Corradetti R*

Cortelli P

Corvol JC

Craven A

Cross H

Cruccu G*

Danhof M

De Strooper B

Dehaene S

Di Luca M

Dickenson A

Dijkstra C

Douglas R

Duffau H

Eisert W

Everitt B*

Fasser C

Forsgren L

Franzen R

Froekjaer S

Gauci D

Georges J

Godwin C

Goetz M

Goodwin G*

Graziano M

Griffith M

Grillner S*

Guest P*

Gustincich S

Haller J*

Hammer A

Hari R

Hermeren G*

Hillered L

Hirsch E

Hoeglinger G

Holsboer F

Hoschl C

Hubble J

Innocenti D

Isaacs T

Jensen A

Kempermann G

Kettenmann H

Kiehn O

Klitgaard H

Knudsen G*

Koempf D

Krickl R

Kruk MR

Lassmann H*

Laureys S

Lauritzen M

Lecrubier Y

Leger JM

Lemos M

Lenzi GL

Leonardi M

Levin Y

Levy S

Lindvall O

Lledo A

MacLeod M

Maggi S

Magistretti P

Makram H

Marin O

Marinovich M*

Martin D

Masdeu J*

Mathias C

Matthews P

Matthiessen T

McKeith I

McLeod M

Meert T

Melcangi RC*

Mendlewicz J

Messlinger K

Millàn J

Millan M

Morris R

Mueller D

Mulle C*

Neuper C

Newton A

Nordberg A

Nutt D*

Nuttin B

O’Neill M

Oertel W

Olesen J*

Padovani A*

Pape HC

Parnavelas J

Parsons A

Partinen M

Pellegrini D*

Pessina A

Petit C

Piccini E

Pickard J

Piper I

Pitkanen A

Plesnila N

Porkka-Heiskanen T*

Privat A

Rabiner E

Racagni G

Ragan I

Ramsey N

Riva MA*

Robbins T

Roozendaal B

Sakmann B

Salomé A

Sandi C

Sarem-Aslani A

Schlatau R

Schmiedek P

Schmutzhard E*

Schoenen J

Scholtes F

Schramm J

Schwab M

Schwartz E

Selmaj K

Smidt M*

Smith J

Staal M*

Stoerig P

Straumann D

Suter U

Tanila H*

Tataranni A

Tenter B

Tonn J*

Trehin P

Tricklebank M

Unterberg A

Van den Bent M

Van den Brink W

Van Reeth O

Verkhratsky A

Vingerhoets G

Vodusek DB*

Vos PE

Wagner M

Waldemar G

Warnke P

Westphal M*

Wieloch T*

Wilcock G

Willshaw D

Wilson B

Wittchen HU

Zimmer A

Zohar J*

*Theme Leaders