Recent News

Conference highlights diversity in STEM

February 10, 2020  -  BrainsCAN Communications

“Math and coding were something I really avoided; I had a fear of it.”

Kaitlyn Parks isn’t alone, but as Co-Chair of the Inspiring Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) conference and a doctoral student in psychology at Western University, she knows the importance of getting women and girls engaged in math, coding and more generally, STEM.

Globally, only 30 per cent of female students select STEM-related fields in higher education – fields like information technology, engineering and computer science. When it comes to academia, less than 30 per cent of researchers worldwide are women

Supporting care partners and those with dementia in the workplace

January 21, 2020  -  BrainsCAN Communications

Imagine spending your career mastering your craft when suddenly, you begin to struggle with tasks that have always seemed simple. Dementia is a difficult diagnosis, but for those diagnosed while still working, it can be even more complicated.

While the majority of dementia diagnoses take place after someone has retired, there are a number of people diagnosed at an age where they’re still working. According to the Alzheimer Society of Ontario, 16,000 Canadians under the age of 65 are living with young onset dementia. Oftentimes, it’s changes in work performance that signal an issue and lead to a dementia diagnosis.

Behavioural research gets boost with first open-access database

December 17, 2019  -  BrainsCAN Communications

Neuroscience researchers at Western University have developed the first open-access repository for raw data from mouse cognitive testing. Called MouseBytes, the database gives researchers a platform to share rodent cognition data using touchscreen cognitive testing with labs around the world. It is supported by Western’s BrainsCAN, and built on previous funding from the Weston Brain Institute.

A new paper published last week in the science journal eLife describes how MouseBytes can enhance transparency, data sharing and reproducibility in research findings. By sharing research data and working collaboratively, researchers can use MouseBytes to gain an improved understanding of rodent cognition – and ultimately, discover insights into how the human brain works. The work involved expertise from Western researchers, along with researchers at other institutions including co-senior author, Boyer Winters from the University of Guelph.

Fellow aims to help others through WORLDiscoveries’ Medical Innovation Fellowship Program

November 1, 2019  -  BrainsCAN Communications

At an age when many are deciding what to do with their lives, a then-20-year-old Wagner Souza found himself considering the end of his.

“When I was in my journalism program, I got sick. I got deadly sick,” said Souza, now 36 and enrolled in the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship Program at WORLDiscoveries in partnership with Western’s BrainsCAN. “All of my doctors were very concerned that I might not make it.”

Awards announced for sixth round of BrainsCAN Accelerator Internal Granting Program

October 25, 2019  -  BrainsCAN Communications

The brain is the last frontier in human biology. While researchers have been examining the structure for centuries, there are still many unknowns about how the brain functions. In order to better understand the brain, BrainsCAN has been supporting high-impact research studies through its Accelerator Internal Granting Program.

In this sixth round of awarded Accelerator projects, Western University researchers will examine how to reverse brain reorganization for those with hearing loss; how neurons in the cerebral cortex allow us to perceive shape, color and objects; how self-efficacy affects memory performance; and how to study higher-level cognitive abilities in adolescents.

BrainsCAN has launched the seventh round of the Accelerator Internal Granting Program. Interested researchers are asked to submit their letters of intent online by November 19.

The brain’s regions work together when it comes to skilled motor sequences

October 3, 2019  -  BrainsCAN Communications

Many skills, such as typing, playing an instrument or tying a knot, rely on complex sequences of movements. Despite being common activities, researchers are still discovering how the brain is able to plan and execute all the movements required to complete these, and other motor tasks. 

To better understand how motor sequences are represented in the brain, Atsushi Yokoi, a researcher at CiNet, National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT), and Jörn Diedrichsen, Western University Computational Neuroscience Professor, worked together to map finger movement sequences.

BrainsCAN partnership aims to showcase impact of dementia support

September 20, 2019  -  BrainsCAN Communications

Tony Paul and his wife Susan were teenagers when they met in London. Now married 45 years, they have raised two children and are proud grandparents. Like many couples, they were looking forward to retirement. But two years before Tony was set to retire, Susan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

Highlighting three years of BrainsCAN support

September 16, 2019  -  BrainsCAN Communications

Since 2016, BrainsCAN has funded and supported high-impact/high-reward research to help transform the way brain diseases and disorders are understood, diagnosed and treated. Over the past year, we’ve added new programs, funded new research and supported open science projects with the goal to reduce the burden of brain disorders.

Researchers find left- and right-handers share similarities in the brain when it comes to numbers

August 27, 2019  -  BrainsCAN Communications

Left- and right-handers may write with different hands, but the brain processes numbers the same way for both.

In a new Registered Report, supported by BrainsCAN, NSERC and CIHR, Western University researchers, Celia Goffin, Moriah Sokolowski, Michael Slipenkyj and Daniel Ansari found the brain’s location for processing numbers is the same for both right- and left-handed individuals. 

Yalda Mohsenzadeh joins BrainsCAN Computational Core

August 14, 2019  -  BrainsCAN Communications

On August 1, the newest member of BrainsCAN’s Computational Core, Yalda Mohsenzadeh began at Western. Mohsenzadeh joined the Computational Core in addition to Western’s Brain and Mind Institute, and the Department of Computer Science as an Assistant Professor.

Mohsenzadeh’s research will focus on investigating human vision and memory using a combination of neuroimaging (fMRI and MEG/EEG), behavior, computational modeling and machine learning. The first five years of her appointment are funded by BrainsCAN, followed by support from the Faculty of Science.

Western University develops first-of-its-kind task-based map of the human cerebellum

July 22, 2019  -  BrainsCAN Communications

It is the second largest structure in the human brain and contains more neurons than any other area. Tucked under the back of the cerebral cortex, the cerebellum is often overlooked when considering how the brain manages complex cognition such as language or problem solving. For the first time, its involvement in cognition can now be examined in comprehensive detail thanks to a newly released map by researchers at Western University.

In a study published earlier this month in Nature Neuroscience, Western researchers released a functional atlas of the brain’s cerebellum. Lead author, Maedbh King created the map as a Western student in collaboration with Western Computational Neuroscience Professor, Jörn Diedrichsen, and University of California, Berkeley Professor, Richard Ivry, with support from Western’s BrainsCAN. The detailed map shows the functional correlates of each cerebellar region in never-before-seen detail.

BrainsCAN Postdoctoral Associates receive CIHR Fellowships

July 17, 2019  -  BrainsCAN Communications

Two BrainsCAN Postdoctoral Associates are among the most recent awardees of the esteemed Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Fellowship Program. Cassandra Lowe and Yiming Xiao were both awarded CIHR Fellowships this spring for their research in cognitive neuroscience.

Xiao’s three-year fellowship with supervisors, Terry Peters and Ali Khan will use artificial intelligence to understand the interplay between disease progression, brain connectivity, and deep brain stimulation in treating Parkinson’s disease.

Lowe’s two-year fellowship will examine whether aerobic exercise can improve brain health and cognition in youth with obesity. She will work with supervisor JB Morton.