Adaptive Brain and Behavior Across the Lifespan

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Virginia Tech

Our aim is to understand adaptation and improve human lives in various contexts. Inequalities and environments in which people live affect their health and behavior — and their success of remaining healthy for a lifetime. Virginia Tech has embraced the idea of understanding how the brain is linked to human experiences, constraints, and behavioral choices that not only affect neural wellbeing, but overall health. The effort is aided by new, sophisticated technologies (e.g., ones that map the brain in real time or allow clearer diagnosis of disease). Individuals must continue to function in the world in terms of addictions or life consequences from poor decision-making, developmental disabilities such as cerebral palsy, brain cancer, and other health challenges. Pursuit of innovative science to cure diseases is an important thrust of this Destination Area, in concert with evidence-based treatments and interdisciplinary training of individuals who work with people who are affected for the long-term by diseases and atypical disorders and conditions. Virginia Tech is mobilizing all emerging tools to improve people’s lives.

Today, neuroscientists understand our brain in action, at the level of molecules, cells, circuits, systems, and behavior — but more remains to be understood. Likewise, brain diseases and traumatic brain injuries, which can result from diverse causes that range from drug addiction to physical impact, have been difficult for society to grasp. Our current knowledge and research in both the human and animal domain will provide substantial opportunities for “brain exploration” with an intention to solve human health issues and address societal issues and behaviors across the lifespan. A vital humanities and social science approach connected to neuroscience and medical approaches promises to move solutions to brain and behavior problems forward. We will also focus on social aspects of human development as people live longer, through the creation and application of new technologies.