June 18, 2019 - BrainsCAN Communications
A fifth round of BrainsCAN Accelerator grants have been awarded to impactful cognitive neuroscience programs at Western University. Earlier this year, 10 applications from the fall intake round were approved for funding from the BrainsCAN Accelerator Internal Granting Program. Research programs range from examining cognitive functions in multiple sclerosis (MS), to understanding factors that contribute to mental health problems in teenagers.
The BrainsCAN Accelerator Program was designed to push the limits of cognitive neuroscience by supporting high-risk/high-reward research programs. The Accelerator program was launched in early 2017 and since it began, five rounds of funds totaling more than $3 million have been awarded to Western researchers. In total, 25 departments across five faculties have benefited from BrainsCAN Accelerator funding.
June 13, 2019 - Western News
Finding volunteers has often been the technological equivalent of the carrier pigeon – even if the message goes out, it’s anyone’s guess how many will see it and respond, in the necessary numbers and demographics, and at the right time.
That’s why researchers in neuroscience, one of Western’s signature areas, recently launched the Cognitive Neuroscience Research Registry, also known as OurBrainsCAN. There, anyone can sign up online to become part of a general database that scientists can then scour for participants who fit their study’s needs.
June 5, 2019 - BrainsCAN Communications
Two brains are better than one, but more than 100 is even better. Starting today, over 100 neuroscience researchers from around the world are visiting Western University to take part in the first international touchscreen symposium, New frontiers in cognitive testing using touchscreen technology.
For the two-day symposium on cognitive behavioural testing to evaluate neurochemical circuits, experts from renowned research institutes will share knowledge and research findings on topics including Alzheimer’s disease, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Huntington disease and more. The symposium is organized by Western neuroscientists, Dr. Flavio Beraldo and Dr. Amy Reichelt, and supported by Western’s BrainsCAN and the International Society for Neurochemistry.
June 4, 2019 - BrainsCAN Communications
How does the brain control what information becomes memories and can this be affected by diet and obesity?
A new article from Western University published today in Trends in Neuroscience describes the role of perineuronal nets (PNNs) – structures that enmesh certain neurons in the brain – in protecting the neuron and regulating how often the brain turns experiences into memories. Dr. Amy Reichelt, a BrainsCAN Postdoctoral Fellow at Western, along with renowned Western neuroscientists and professors in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Dr. Lisa Saksida and Dr. Tim Bussey describe PNNs, what effect they have on the brain and what happens when they’re not working.
May 10, 2019 - BrainsCAN Communications
Dr. Lisa Saksida, Western University neuroscientist and BrainsCAN’s Co-Scientific Director, understands the importance of an equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) strategy for the research community. Saksida was a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge when she was involved in a working group for Athena SWAN, the United Kingdom's internationally-recognized EDI program that aims to advance the representation of women in all disciplines. Now as a Western researcher, Saksida sits on the Canada Association for Neuroscience (CAN) EDI and Advocacy Committees, and is Chair of Western BrainsCAN’s Equity and Diversity Committee.
When it came time for the Government of Canada to develop a made-in-Canada EDI strategy, it was no surprise that BrainsCAN, led by Saksida, was asked to be involved in the consultation around the creation of this new program.
May 7, 2019 - BrainsCAN Communications
Dr. Tim Bussey, a professor in the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, used his Accelerator findings to support his recent NSERC research application. Prior to this grant application, Bussey’s Accelerator study examined certain brain cells called astrocytes to gain a better understanding of a memory process known as pattern separation.
“The BrainsCAN Accelerator Grant gave me the freedom to produce pilot data on pattern separation in the brain and create a case for a NSERC grant,” said Bussey.
His work resulted in one of Western’s largest NSERC funds for the fall intake round. In this new NSERC program, Bussey is expanding on his Accelerator research by aiming to understand how the brain uses pattern separation to keep memories distinct – a process that is often disrupted during brain diseases.
March 25, 2019 - Western News
Neuroscience researchers at Western have long worked with members of the London community to gather data for their studies. Launched this week, OurBrainsCAN is a central participant registry for cognitive research at Western with the goal to increase community involvement in these world-class brain studies. The registry – located at ourbrainscan.uwo.ca – was developed by BrainsCAN, Western’s cognitive neuroscience research initiative.
“For our research discoveries to really apply to Canadians in general, our research participants have to be people from different backgrounds and of different ages,” said Ingrid Johnsrude, Director of the Brain and Mind Institute, one of the leaders of OurBrainsCAN. “This new participant registry will not only give community members an easy and private way to sign up for research studies, but it will also allow us to do better science by engaging the whole community, and not just the young university students who traditionally are the majority of our research participants.”
March 13, 2019 - BrainsCAN Communications
The brain is the last frontier in human biology. It generates our thoughts and emotions; it’s what makes us human. Neuroscience researchers are working to find the next discovery in the hopes of unlocking the brain’s secrets.
For BrainsCAN’s Research Management Committee (RMC), their years of research excellence in cognitive neuroscience has contributed to numerous scientific discoveries at Western University. To celebrate Brain Awareness Week, a global campaign to increase awareness of the progress and benefits of brain research, several BrainsCAN RMC members described a time where a research finding surprised them. It turns out the brain can still amaze even the most distinguished neuroscientists.
March 8, 2019 - BrainsCAN Communications
Nearly 3.6 million Canadians are currently living with a brain disorder, diminishing quality of life and creating an enormous burden on our health-care system. World-class BrainsCAN research, taking place at Western University, is helping transform the lives of those with brain diseases and disorders.
With funding from the Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF), BrainsCAN-aligned researchers are working together to find new discoveries. Over the last six months, research findings have shed light on the brain’s response to obesity, concussions, and aging, all with the goal to better understand how the brain works and find solutions to keep it healthy. For Brain Awareness Week (BAW), we’re highlighting the results of these brain studies.
March 1, 2019 - Western News
Finding it impossible to resist that craving for chocolate and potato chips? It may be all in your head – specifically in the part of your brain that controls self-regulation.
New Western research suggests there’s a link between obesity and the level of activity in a person’s prefrontal cortex. People with less activity in this brain region are more vulnerable to the lure of high-calorie foods rich in sugar and fats, says study lead author Cassandra Lowe, a BrainsCAN postdoctoral fellow.
March 1, 2019 - CTV News
February 26, 2019 - Cell Press
In a review published February 26 in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences, researchers explore the age-old chicken-or-the-egg conundrum but this time looking at whether obesity reduces self-control or if reduced self-control leads to obesity. The authors argue that the short answer is both, and it is largely due to activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is not only affected by our dietary choices, but can also influence it.
"It's not just the case that obesity is causing these issues in the brain structure and function, but it is this reciprocal relationship--that differences in brain structure and function can cause obesity, that's really important," says first author Cassandra Lowe (@cassandra_lowe), a BrainsCAN Postdoctoral Fellow at the Western University. "Our review shows that if you have lower prefrontal activity, it can pre-dispose you to overeating, which in turn can lead to weight gain and obesity."
February 22, 2019 - Media Relations
For more than 40 years, some of Western University’s most internationally recognized research has come from the field of neuroscience research. A special event, later this spring, aims to encourage and foster the next generation of neuroscientists as Western hosts the London Brain Bee on Saturday, April 13.
Part of a worldwide initiative, the London Brain Bee is open to students in Grades 9, 10, 11 and 12 from high schools in and around London, Ontario. The winner of the London Brain Bee will advance to the CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee Championship at McMaster in May and the national winner will represent Canada at the International Brain Bee competition, which will be held in Daegu, South Korea this year.
February 11, 2019 - Western News
Women have made significant contributions to science, yet in 2019, less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women.
A diverse scientific community strengthens research innovation and excellence. Western University is home to extraordinary women researchers who are contributing to cutting-edge science discoveries. Many of these researchers have become role models for the next generation of scientists. In the early 2000s, BrainsCAN’s Co-Scientific Director, Dr. Lisa Saksida, co-invented rodent touchscreen technology to test rodents in ways that resemble human tests. Now used by labs worldwide, this innovative technology is helping researchers better understand the psychological processes underlying memory and perception.
February 4, 2019 - Western News
Placing collaboration above competition, Western researchers are partnering with more than 300 labs around the world to gain a better understanding of the mouse brain in hopes of unlocking the secrets Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders in humans. Led by BrainsCAN, this is the latest and largest project undertaken by the neuroscience initiative in a push for open-science research.
“There’s an understanding that collaboration is better than competition for science,” stressed Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry professor Tim Bussey. “It’s also the ethics of public institutions – everybody paid for this (research) – and generating data, and then hoarding it, borders on unethical. The open-science movement is huge. It’s unstoppable.”
January 25, 2019 - BrainsCAN Communications
BrainsCAN, Western University’s neuroscience research initiative, is continuing to expand its global presence with a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Cardiff University in Wales, UK. Through this MOU, BrainsCAN and Cardiff researchers will build collaborative, high-impact neuroscience research projects to develop and deliver evidence-based assessments for the diagnosis and treatment of brain disorders.
“This formal partnership is the result of a longstanding relationship with researchers at Cardiff University,” said Dr. Lisa Saksida, BrainsCAN Co-Scientific Director. “We are thrilled to build on this partnership and bring together world-class cognitive neuroscience research from both institutions to benefit those affected by brain disorders and disease.”
January 25, 2019 - BrainsCAN Communications
BrainsCAN, Western University’s neuroscience research initiative, is building international collaborations with a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. In the recently signed MOU, BrainsCAN and Yonsei researchers will work together to find effective solutions for maintaining a healthy brain.
“This significant partnership will broaden BrainsCAN’s ability to offer a collaborative, world-class, international research environment for neuroscience researchers,” said BrainsCAN Co-Scientific Director, Dr. Lisa Saksida. “We look forward to working with Yonsei to advance our understanding of the brain through this exciting new partnership.”
January 19, 2019 - BrainsCAN Communications
Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease that affects memory, thinking and behaviour. In Canada, one out of every 13 adults between the ages of 65 and 74 are affected by Alzheimer's disease and that number rises to one in four after the age of 85. With the number of Canadians affected by Alzheimer’s disease expected to increase over the next decade, continued research into dementia is critical.
Western University’s BrainsCAN initiative is transforming the way brain disorders, including dementia are understood, diagnosed and treated through high impact brain research. Dr. Jane Rylett is a Western University neuroscientist and a BrainsCAN-aligned researcher, internationally recognized for her contributions to Alzheimer’s disease research.