Recent News

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.”

The science behind déjà vu and other surprising brain discoveries

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.

Brain research leads to new discoveries

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.

New research on why some are big snackers

March 1, 2019  -  CTV News

New BrainsCAN review suggests a reciprocal relationship between obesity and self-control

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."

London Brain Bee 2019 encourages next generation of neuroscientists

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.

BrainsCAN celebrates International Day of Women and Girls in Science

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.

Researchers committed to open-science efforts

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.”