Recent News

Funding announced for fifth round of BrainsCAN Accelerator Internal Granting Program

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.

Volunteers help unlock deeper understanding

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. 

Inaugural touchscreen symposium brings neuroscience researchers to Western

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.

Thinking beyond the neuron

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.

BrainsCAN contributes to Canada’s new equity, diversity and inclusion program

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.

BrainsCAN funding leads to NSERC grant

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.

New registry to boost brain research participation

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 – 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.”