André Parent

André Parent,

Emeritus Professor
Département de psychiatrie et de neurosciences, Faculté de Médecine

A pioneer in the study of the organization of connections and pathways of the healthy brain, and changes that lead to the development of Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases.

Professor André Parent is a world-renowned pioneer for his research that has advanced our understanding of the role of neurons in a region of the brain called the basal ganglion. He has studied the role of these nerve structures deep under the cerebral cortex in the control of psychomotor behavior, both in normal and pathological conditions (for example in Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases).

His work on the comparative anatomy of the brain of several species has become an essential reference for understanding the organization of the brain and for contextualizing recent discoveries in neural communication networks. He was the first to show the striking similarity in the organization of basal ganglia in reptiles and mammals, and his studies on human neurogenesis have shown that the human brain shows a remarkable degree of plasticity and adaptability to changes in the environment.

These studies of the human brain were made possible by the fact that Dr. Parent set up, in 1996, a human brain bank that now contains more than 500 specimens of both healthy and diseased brains (affected by various neurodegenerative or neuropsychiatric diseases). The availability of this "gray gold", made available to the entire scientific community, makes it possible to investigate the pathogenesis of various neurological and psychiatric diseases, and to search for new treatments that will have a major impact the quality of life of people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson, Alzheimer, Huntington, etc.) and psychiatric diseases (schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, etc.).

Dr. André Parent develops techniques for labeling and identifying the chemical nature of brain cells, which allows him to study the reorganization of neuronal networks that occurs when the brain must deal with degenerative processes such as those induced by Huntington's and Parkinson's diseases. This approach assists in the identification of new therapeutic avenues for pathologies of aging for which no cures exist yet.

The research program aims at elucidating the anatomical and functional organization of the basal ganglia, which are a group of brain nuclei involved in the control of motor and psychoaffective behaviour.

In a first set of experiments, an immuno-cytochemical approach is used to establish homologies among the various the basal ganglia components in different vertebrate species in the hope to better understand the phylogenetic evolution of the cerebral hemisphere in vertebrates.

A second set of investigations deal more specifically with the microcircuitry of the basal ganglia in both normal and parkinsonian monkeys in order to better characterize the neurochemical changes associated with the parkinsonian syndrome.

A third set of analyses is devoted to the study of the human brain itself. A human brain bank has been been set up and is used to characterize the main morphological and neurochemical changes that occur within the basal ganglia of patients who have suffered from Parkinson disease or Huntington chorea. This precious material helps to validate the data gathered from animal studies and opens up new therapeutic avenues for neuropsychiatric disorders.

(1) Parent, A. (2017) The history of the basal ganglia : An overview. In: H. Steiner, K. Y. Tseng (Eds), Handbook of the Basal Ganglia Structure and Function. 2nd edition, Elsevier, Amsterdam (sous presse).

(2) Parent, M., Parent, A. (2016) The primate basal ganglia connectome as revealed by single-axon tracing. In: K. S. Rockland (Ed), Axons and Brain Architecture. Academic Press-Elsevier, London and Amsterdam, Chap. 2, pp. 27-46.

(3) Eid, L., Parent, A., Parent, M. (2016) Asynaptic and heterogeneous distribution of the cholinergic innervation of the globus pallidus in primates. Brain Struct. Funct., 221 (2): 1139-1155.

(4) Parent, A. (2014) Brain evolution. In: M. J. Aminoff, R. B. Daroff (Eds), Encyclopedia of the Neurological Sciences. 2nd edition, Vol. I. Academic Press, Oxford, pp. 481-483.

(5) Parent, A. (2014) Anatomical organization of the basal ganglia. In: A. Deutch (Ed), Parkinson’s Disease. The Biomedical and Life Sciences Collection, Henry Stewart Talks Ltd, London. En ligne a

(6) Bédard A., Bernier P., Parent, A. (2011) Neurogenesis in monkey and human adult brain. In: T. Seki, K. Sawamoto, J. M. Parent, A. Alvarez-Buylla (Eds), Neurogenesis in the Adult Brain II. Clinical Implications. Springer Verlag, Berlin, pp. 1-21.

(7) Parent, A. (2009) L’histoire du cerveau - De l’Antiquité aux neurosciences. Les Presses de l’Université Laval (Québec) et Chronique Sociale (Lyon), 308 pp. [ISBN 978-2-7637-8636-0].

(8) Lévesque, M., Parent, A. (2005) The striatofugal fiber system in primates: A reevaluation of its organization based on single-axon tracing studies. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 102: 11888-11893.

(9) Bernier, P.J., Bédard, A., Vinet, J., Lévesque, M., Parent, A. (2002) Newly generated neurons in the amygdala and adjoining cortex of adult primates. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 99: 11464-11469.

(10) Parent, A. (1996) Carpenter’s Human Neuroanatomy, 9th Edition, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, 1011 pp. [ISBN 0-683-06752-4].

(11) Parent, A., Hazrati, L.N. (1995) Functional anatomy of the basal ganglia. I. The cortico-basal ganglia-thalamo-cortical loop. Brain Res. Rev., 20: 91-127.

(12) Parent, A., Hazrati, L.N. (1995) Functional anatomy of the basal ganglia. II. The place of subthalamic nucleus and external pallidum in basal ganglia circuitry. Brain Res. Rev., 20: 128-154.

(13) Parent, A., Sato, F., Wu, Y., Gauthier, J., Lévesque, M., Parent, M. (2000) Organization of the basal ganglia: The importance of axonal collateralization. Trends in Neurosciences, 23: 20-27.

(14) Parent, A. (1990) Extrinsic connections of the basal ganglia. Trends in Neurosciences, 13: 254-258.

(15) Parent, A. (1986) Comparative Neurobiology of the Basal Ganglia, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 335 pp. [ISBN 0-471-80348-0].


André Parent was born in Montreal in 1944. After obtaining a baccalaureate in sciences (BSc)(biology-physiology) from the Université de Montréal in 1967, he undertook graduate studies in neurosciences at the Université Laval under the learned tutorship of Dr Louis J. Poirier, who was well known as an experimental neurologist. After obtaining a Philosophiae Doctor degree (PhD) from the Université Laval in 1970, he went to work as a postdoctoral trainee at the Max-Planck-Institut for Brain Research in Frankfurt, Germany. There he studied with Professor Rolf Hassler, whose investigations shed a new light on the pathogenesis of Parkinson's disease. He then came back to the Faculty of Medicine at the Université Laval where he became Full Professor in 1981. He is currently member of the Psychiatry and Neuroscience Department at the Faculty of Medicine. He did his research work first at the Enfant-Jesus Hospital Research Center from 1976 to 1996, and then at the Institut universitaire de santé mentale de Québec (IUSMQ). He acted as Scientific Director of the Enfant-Jesus Hospital Research Center from 1985 to 1992 and he is currently the Scientific Director of the Neuroscience Thematic Research Center at the Université Laval.

(1) Member of the Royal Society of Canada (Section III: Académie of Sciences), 1994;
(2) Léo-Parizeau Prize (Acfas), 1995;
(3) « J.C.B. Grant Carreer Award » (Canadian Federation of Biological Society), 1996;
(4) Killam Research Award (Canadian Council for the Arts), 1997;
(5) « Jerry Friedman Award » (Parkinson Fondation Canada), 2001;
(6) Wilder-Penfield Prize ( Québec Government), 2002;
(7) Member of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, 2008;
(8) Officier de l'Ordre national du Québec (2016).

Basal ganglia; Movement disorders; Neurodegenerative diseases; Neuroanatomy; Primates; Human Brain Bank; Neuroscience History.

André Parent

(418) 663-5747 x6868


2601 Chemin de la Canardière
Québec (Québec)
G1J 2G3


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