Our research

​Centre for Neuroscience and Stereology, which is led by Susana Aznar, Ph.D., is engaged in the research of structural and functional changes in the brain under normal conditions and in disease.


The laboratory is internationally recognized for its expertise in stereological quantification of cellular parameters in both pathophysiological and normalcy in the brain.

This includes a wide range of studies of the quantitative structure of the human brain, as well as the possible structural / cellular causes of disability in psychiatric and neurodegenerative brain diseases.
Stereology is based on a series of mathematical and statistical models with which quantification of the three-dimensional structures in the brain can be made. This is based on the following concepts:

  • The Disector Cavalieri principle, used to determine the total number of particles in any region regardless of size, shape or orientation in the tissue.
  • Uniform sampling - uniform sampling ensures that the result is based on a principle of coincidence (you do not decide yourself where to count or measure), and that the number of samples necessary to examine to obtain sufficient precision, follow a set of simple, mathematically calculated and systematic sampling principles.
With these methods, it is possible, for example, to count the number of cells in the cerebral cortex in brains of patients and controls. The cerebral cortex, also referred to as the cortex, is among other things involved in the control of higher intellectual skills such as cognition, which includes learning, memory and concentration. These functions, which are also involved in the dementias, are often significantly altered in patients with neurodegenerative and psychiatric diseases.

The activities of the ​Centre for Neuroscience and Stereology include quantitative studies of cortical and subcortical structures in the context of embryonic development, aging as well as in brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and alcoholism.

Molecular biology

In addition to the stereological studies mentioned above the Centre for Neuroscience and Stereology​started a molecular biological entity, wherein research is aimed at identifying specific molecular changes in the brain's circuitry in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Multiple System Atrophy (MSA). Neurons in specific areas of the brain are uniquely altered in this disease, which has a great functional importance to the symptomatic picture of the patients. It is also relevant for the development of new therapeutic treatments.

Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a progressive, neurological disease that affects both men and women. MSA is associated with degeneration of the cells in specific areas of the brain.

In order to increase our knowledge of the structural changes in the brains of MSA, we have started stereological quantification in selected regions of MSA brains while concurrently performing molecular biological studies of the expression of cell-specific markers and neuro-inflammatory signaling molecules in the same brains.

These studies include quantitative and qualitative measurements of specific markers for astrocytes, oligodendroglia, activated microglia and neuronal markers in donated brains of MSA patients.

Brain bank

The Centre for Neuroscience and Stereology​​ has over the past 50 years continuously built up an extensive brain bank consisting of postmortem brain tissue from patients with various brain disorders and controls.

Susana Aznar is locally responsible for the ongoing update and use of this material. The material provides a unique basis for studies focusing on stereological and molecular changes associated with various diseases of the brain.

In addition, this material provides a basis for comparative studies in which molecular biological changes from animal models can be verified in the human brain.​

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