Tag Archive for brain

IRCM researchers discover a protein’s critical role in the brain

Nabil Seidah

Nabil Seidah

A team of Montréal researchers at the IRCM led by Dr. Nabil G. Seidah, in collaboration with Dr. William C. Wetsel’s team at Duke University in the United States, discovered that the protein PC7 plays a critical role in the brain by affecting certain types of cognitive performance such as anxiety, learning and emotional memory. Their results, recently published in the scientific journals Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and Nature, could have a significant impact on regulating behaviour related to anxiety disorders and trauma.

Discovery of the gene defective in a rare developmental disorder of the brain

Dr. Jacques Michaud

Dr. Jacques Michaud

In April 2009, a Quebec family experienced the worst tragedy for parents: before the age of one, one of their sons died of a rare genetic disease causing congenital microcephaly, intellectual disability, cerebral atrophy, and refractory seizures. The event was even more tragic because it was the third infant to die in this family from the same disease.

This tragedy led Dr. Jacques Michaud, professor in the Faculty of Medecine of Université de Montréal and Doctor at CHU Ste-Justine Hospital, to discover the genetic abnormality responsible for this developmental disorder.

Scientists find brain region that helps you make up your mind

Stan Floresco and Colin Stopper

Stan Floresco and Colin Stopper

One of the smallest parts of the brain is getting a second look after new research suggests it plays a crucial role in decision making.

A University of British Columbia study published today in Nature Neuroscience says the lateral habenula, a region of the brain linked to depression and avoidance behaviours, has been largely misunderstood and may be integral in cost-benefit decisions.

Everything in moderation: excessive nerve cell pruning leads to disease

Dr. Phillip Barker

Dr. Phillip Barker

Mechanism meant to maintain efficiency of brain network involved in neurodegenerative disease

Scientists at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital-The Neuro, McGill University, have made important discoveries about a cellular process that occurs during normal brain development and may play an important role in neurodegenerative diseases.

To live and learn: making memories has to be a speedy business

Dr. Wayne Sossin

Dr. Wayne Sossin

The brain is plastic – adapting to the hundreds of experiences in our daily lives by reorganizing pathways and making new connections between nerve cells. This plasticity requires that memories of new information and experiences are formed fast. So fast that the body has a special mechanism, unique to nerve cells, that enables memories to be made rapidly.

Scientists shed light on the brain mechanisms behind a debilitating sleep disorder

Dr. John Peever

Dr. John Peever

Researchers at the University of Toronto discover how the body’s muscles accidentally fall asleep while awake

Normally muscles contract in order to support the body, but in a rare condition known as cataplexy the body’s muscles “fall asleep” and become involuntarily paralyzed. Cataplexy is incapacitating because it leaves the affected individual awake, but either fully or partially paralyzed. It is one of the bizarre symptoms of the sleep disorder called narcolepsy.

A new role for sodium in the brain

Dr. Derek Bowie

Dr. Derek Bowie

Findings identify a novel pharmaco-logical target for drug development

Researchers at McGill University have found that sodium – the main chemical component in table salt – is a unique “on/off” switch for a major neurotransmitter receptor in the brain. This receptor, known as the kainate receptor, is fundamental for normal brain function and is implicated in numerous diseases, such as epilepsy and neuropathic pain.

Addiction: abnormal communication in the brain


Alain Dagher

Dr. Alain Dagher

Addiction to cigarettes, drugs and other stimulants has been linked in the past to the brain’s frontal lobes, but now there is scientific evidence that indicates where in the frontal cortex addiction takes hold and how. Addiction could be a result of abnormal communication between two areas of the frontal lobes linked to decision-making. The discovery will undoubtedly stimulate clinical work on new therapies for millions of people who suffer from addiction.

Major step toward an Alzheimer’s vaccine

Dr. Serge Rivest

Dr. Serge Rivest

A team of researchers from Université Laval, CHU de Québec, and pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has discovered a way to stimulate the brain’s natural defense mechanisms in people with Alzheimer’s disease.A team of researchers from Université Laval, CHU de Québec, and pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has discovered a way to stimulate the brain’s natural defense mechanisms in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

How genetics shape our addictions

Alain Dagher

Dr. Alain Dagher

Genes predict the brain’s reaction to smoking

Have you ever wondered why some people find it so much easier to stop smoking than others? New research shows that vulnerability to smoking addiction is shaped by our genes. A study from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro, McGill University shows that people with genetically fast nicotine metabolism have a significantly greater brain response to smoking cues than those with slow nicotine metabolism.

Kurt Haas discovers master regulator of brain plasticity

Dr Kurt Haas

Dr. Kurt Haas

Synaptic plasticity, or the ability of neurons to form, strengthen, or weaken connections with each other, has long been studied as the basis for learning and memory. While the cellular processes and biological mechanisms involved are complex, much progress has been made at the Brain Research Centre and other research institutes around the world towards understanding this dynamic brain process.

Astrocytes: The superheroes of brain cells

Brian MacVicar

Dr. Brian MacVicar

Eight years ago, Brian MacVicar discovered that astrocytes—cells that surround nerve cells and all blood vessels in the brain—have a primary role in regulating blood flow within the brain, which provided a new target for potential therapies for stroke, migraine, and vascular dementia. Now he and Hyun Beom Choi, a research associate in his lab, have uncovered a new role for this heroic brain cell: detecting problems in the brain and delivering nutrients to keep brain cells healthy in times of critical need.

The Mammalian Methylome: Investigating how cells regulate gene expression in the brain

Dr. Cathy Barr

In developing humans and other mammals, not all genes are created equal – or equally used. The expression of certain genes, known as imprinted genes, is determined by just one copy of the parents’ genetic contribution. In humans, there are at least 80 known imprinted genes. If a copy of an imprinted gene fails to function correctly – or if both copies are expressed – the result can be a variety of heritable conditions, such as Prader-Willi and Angelman syndromes, or increased risk for cancer.

A team from Université Laval shed new light on neuron regeneration in the brain

Armen Saghatelyan

Dr. Armen Saghatelyan

Feb. 5 2012 – Researchers at the Robert-Giffard Research Center of Université Laval have just shed new light on the regeneration of brain neurons. The work of Lusine Bozoyan, Jivan Khlghatyan and Armen Saghatelyan, published in the February 1st edition of the Journal of Neuroscience, demonstrates the role played by cells called astrocytes in this mechanism.

Study Identifies a New Way Brain Cells Die in Alzheimer’s Disease – Will help lead researchers towards new treatments

Zamponi and Stys

Zamponi & Stys

A new study challenges conventional thinking about how brain cells die in Alzheimer’s disease. The findings demonstrate a previously unknown mechanism by which the cells die and will help lead researchers in new directions for treating the degenerative brain disease. The study by scientists at the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute is published this week in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

No room for inaccuracy in the brain

The map of your brain is dynamic

July 20, 2011 – Dr. Ed Ruthazer is a mapmaker but, his landscape is the developing brain – specifically the neuronal circuitry, which is the network of connections between nerve cells. His research at The Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital – The Neuro at McGill University, reveals the brain as a dynamic landscape where connections between nerves are plastic, changing and adapting to the demands of the environment.