Have you ever been startled by a sudden noise, sight or touch? It can be quite a shock to the system. You tense up, your mind blanks out all previous thoughts, and you find yourself preparing for the worst. Then there are the lingering effects that can last for minutes after it is all over. While you may hate the feeling of being startled, neuroscience researchers have found the entire process is a natural part of life inherited in evolution from our ancient ancestors.
Injuries are a part of life. In most cases, such as cuts, bruises, tears, and even broken bones, our bodies heal. But when damage occurs to the central nervous system – or as most people call it, CNS – the outlook can be heartbreaking. The cells in this area, known as neurons, simply are not good at regeneration. This is why damage to the spinal cord and retina is considered a dire ailment.
The Canadian Association for Neuroscience is proud to announce it will be awarding two Young Investigator Awards in 2017. The laureates are Przemyslaw (Mike) Sapieha, from Université de Montréal, and Tuan Trang, from University of Calgary. The CAN nominations committee was equally impressed with both candidates, who have made important contributions to our understanding of the brain and the nervous system in the early stages of their careers. Both winners have developed a strong program of basic, curiosity-driven research that have led to discoveries that can be used to improve the lives of Canadians.
Discovery could be key to treating brain and spinal cord injury
A foray into plant biology led one researcher to discover that a natural molecule can repair axons, the thread-like projections that carry electrical signals between cells. Axonal damage is the major culprit underlying disability in conditions such as spinal cord injury and stroke.
Andrew Kaplan, a PhD candidate at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University, was looking for a pharmacological approach to axon regeneration, with a focus on 14-3-3, a family of proteins with neuroprotective functions that have been under investigation in the laboratory of Dr. Alyson Fournier, professor of neurology and neurosurgery and senior author on the study.
Opening up narrowed veins from the brain and spinal cord is not effective in treating multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study led by the University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health.
The conclusions about so-called “liberation therapy,” which thousands of people with MS have undergone since 2009, represent the most definitive debunking of the claim that MS patients could achieve dramatic improvements from a one-time medical procedure.
Results of the International Psychiatric Genomics Consortium unveiled
Scientists at the University of British Columbia have genetically engineered a mouse that does not become addicted to cocaine, adding to the evidence that habitual drug use is more a matter of genetics and biochemistry than just poor judgment.
The mice they created had higher levels of a protein called cadherin, which helps bind cells together. In the brain, cadherin helps strengthen synapses between neurons – the gaps that electrical impulses must traverse to bring about any action or function controlled by the brain, whether it’s breathing, walking, learning a new task or recalling a memory.
Research determines how the brain recognizes what’s important at first glance.
Researchers at the Centre for Neuroscience Studies (CNS) at Queen’s University have discovered that a region of the brain – the superior colliculus – contains a mechanism responsible for interpreting how visual input from a scene determines where we look. This mechanism, known as a visual salience map, allows the brain to quickly identify and act on the most important information in the visual field, and is a basic mechanism for our everyday vision.
Scientists identify mechanism for brain dysfunction following seizures and drugs that prevent this impairment from occurring.
Six years ago, Cam Teskey, PhD, decided to follow a hunch. Armed with an advanced new tool designed to measure oxygen levels in tissues, he wanted to look at the brains of rats to see what was happening during seizures.