Recent News

Results Announcement: BrainsCAN Accelerator Internal Granting Program

March 26, 2020  -  BrainsCAN Communications

The seventh round of BrainsCAN’s Accelerator Internal Granting Program results have been announced. Six, one-year projects were funded under this round.

*Award agreements have been sent to the following researchers. Note: final awards subject to change based on acceptance of the award agreements.

BrainsCAN notice for the neuroscience community regarding COVID-19

March 19, 2020  -  BrainsCAN Communications

As we continue to monitor the evolving situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, BrainsCAN is taking necessary precautions and aligning with direction from the university. As such, BrainsCAN staff, including BrainsCAN Research Core staff, have transitioned to remote work for the foreseeable future. 

All BrainsCAN staff are still accessible by email and Slack. Zoom is our primary video conferencing tool available for those wishing to book a virtual meeting. Please note that while BrainsCAN staff are working from home, some working hours will change to accommodate childcare responsibilities. These changes are taking place on a case-by-case basis; please connect with the BrainsCAN team member for specific details.

Based on the directive from the provincial government, Western moved to an essential services model on Tuesday, March 24, continuing for 14 days. All buildings are now closed and are not accessible by keycard.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at

Using technology to unlock the brain's mysteries

March 16, 2020  -  BrainsCAN Communications

Attempting to solve the brain’s mysteries has been the focus of neuroscientists for centuries. Over the last 25 years, highly specialized equipment has helped researchers examine the brain in more detail than ever before, bringing them one step closer to understanding the most complex structure in the human body.

Western University is home to world-renowned neuroscientists using cutting-edge technology to assist in their mission to crack the brain’s code. In recent years, this technology has helped Western researchers read someone’s thoughts, track the physical changes of a concussion, and understand how a blind woman can see moving objects.

Adolescents prone to poor dietary choices, leading to changes in the brain

March 9, 2020  -  BrainsCAN Communications

A new review paper from Western University has outlined how poor dietary choices in adolescence can lead to changes in the brain. Published March 9 in the journal The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, Western researchers, Cassandra Lowe, J. Bruce Morton and Amy Reichelt highlighted adolescence as a period of dual susceptibility – at an age when teenagers are still developing decision-making capabilities, their limited restraint and heightened reward system make them more prone to eating poorly, which in turn may lead to changes in the brain.

“Adolescents are more prone to eating calorie-dense, high-sugar foods because they lack the control to regulate it,” said first author Cassandra Lowe, a BrainsCAN Postdoctoral Fellow at Western University. “Their brain is still maturing so they’re more sensitive to the rewarding properties of these foods, but at the same time, they lack the control mechanisms to prevent themselves from eating junk foods.”

BrainsCAN expands equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives with new role

March 6, 2020  -  BrainsCAN Communications

BrainsCAN has been pioneering equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) initiatives since the development of the original Canada First Research Excellence Fund (CFREF) funding proposal in 2016. Inherent in that original proposal was the integration and implementation of EDI considerations throughout BrainsCAN.

To address the recent growing demand for EDI support, Nicole Kaniki joined BrainsCAN in February as the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Specialist. As part of this new role, Nicole will assess the EDI needs within the BrainsCAN community and provide strategic planning, implementation and evaluation of effective EDI initiatives, enhancing the inclusive experiences of marginalized groups. Nicole will also develop resource support and training initiatives to implement equitable and inclusive practices and promote diversity within neuroscience.

International consortium outlines global vision for open-source NHP imaging database

March 6, 2020  -  BrainsCAN Communications

In 2018, an international team of researchers, including Western University neuroscientists, Ravi Menon and Stefan Everling, developed the world’s first open-source database for non-human primate (NHP) brain imaging. Called the PRIMatE Data Exchange (PRIME-DE), it was the first open science resource for the neuroimaging community that aggregated the anatomical, functional and diffusion NHP MRI data sets from laboratories around the world.

In the last year, over 200 NHP data sets have been openly shared in the database, with the goal to increase this to 1,000 data sets over the next five years.

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.