Researchers close in on root of slow motor learning in autism

Simon Chen
Simon Chen
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Social deficits attract so much attention in the study of autism spectrum disorder, it’s easy to forget there are motor learning deficits during early childhood as well. For autistic kids hoping to throw a ball around the schoolyard and connect with classmates, these physical skill differences can isolate a child further.

In a new study published in Nature Neuroscience researchers from the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine have closed in on the neurological underpinnings of the motor learning delay. Dr. Simon Chen’s lab in the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine used a mouse model of autism to demonstrate a shortage in the amount of the neurotransmitter noradrenaline being released into the brain’s primary motor cortex.

Dr. Chen’s lab identified the problem originating some distance away in an area of the hindbrain called the locus coeruleus, which is known as a center of motivation, alertness, and attention.

Read the rest of the press release on the University of Ottawa website:

Original research article:

Yin, X., Jones, N., Yang, J. et al. Delayed motor learning in a 16p11.2 deletion mouse model of autism is rescued by locus coeruleus activation. Nat Neurosci (2021).

CAN Trainee research feature: Ewen Lavoie – University of Alberta

Ewen Lavoie presents work he has done in the laboratory of Dr. Craig Chapman at the University of Alberta, and published here:

Lavoie, E., & Chapman, C. S. (2021). What’s limbs got to do with it? Real-world movement correlates with feelings of ownership over virtual arms during object interactions in virtual reality. Neuroscience of Consciousness.

Check out all our CAN Trainee research features here

Pioneers in migraine research that has led to the development of new treatments awarded world’s top Brain Prize

A group of four neuroscientists from Denmark, Sweden, UK, and USA who discovered a key mechanism that causes migraine that led to revolutionary new treatments receive The Brain Prize, the world’s most valuable prize in neuroscience.

Four decades of research paved the way for the development of entirely new classes of migraine-specific drugs which are now on the market and are already radically improving the lives of sufferers.

The Brain Prize is awarded annually by the Lundbeck Foundation and is worth DKK 10 (approximately £1.1m, $1.5m, €1.3m).

The Brain Prize will be awarded at a ceremony in Copenhagen on 25 October 2021, presided over by His Royal Highness, The Crown Prince of Denmark.


CAN submission to Department of Finance pre-budget consultations

On January 25, 2021the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, and the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance, the Honourable Mona Fortier, launched pre-budget consultations. These discussions allow the government to hear the best ideas from Canadians and experts across the country about how Budget 2021 can support Canadians through the pandemic and help us build back better.

When COVID-19 is under control and Canada’s economy is ready to rebound, the government has a plan to make smart, targeted investments to jumpstart the country’s economic recovery and begin to repair the damage done by the pandemic. These pre-budget consultations are an opportunity for Canadians from across the country to share their ideas and priorities for how the government can best invest to create jobs, strengthen the middle class, and build a greener, more competitive, more inclusive, and more resilient economy.

Read the full press release here:

and visit the consultation website here:

Read the Canadian Association for Neuroscience’s submission here