I'm a scientist who studies brain function and behaviour. Ask Me Anything!
Hi, I’m Associate Professor Thomas Burne (https://qbi.uq.edu.au/burnegroup and https://twitter.com/QldBrainInst/status/1099917224272412674) a neuroscientist who studies the brain, at the Queensland Brain Institute, University of Queensland. I’m interested in how and why vitamin D is important for the brain, and how vitamin D deficiency may affect our ability to learn and remember. I have recently published research (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tins.2019.01.003) which may explain why vitamin D is so important for brain plasticity, and how vitamin D deficiency may lead to a range of cognitive disorders. In other recent research (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hbm.24380) we found that people with mild cognitive impairment and vitamin D deficiency had a smaller hippocampus and poorer connectivity of neurons.
Recent findings of one of my papers shows that after 20 weeks of vitamin D deficiency in young adult mice there was a significant decline in their ability to remember and learn (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-019-01840-w). Their brains showed a pronounced reduction in a type of scaffolding, called perineuronal nets, in the hippocampus (critical region for memory). There was also a stark reduction in both the number and strength of connections between neurons in that region (https://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/asvcki/vitamin_d_could_be_your_best_defence_against_a/). The next step is to find out if loss of function in this area is due to vitamin D deficiency, which could be an important contributor to the key hallmarks of schizophrenia, including severe memory deficits and a distorted perception of reality.
Ask me anything!
EDIT: Thanks for all of the discussion everyone! It's been a blast. For any further info, see our website: qbi.uq.edu.au.