Green party responds to our questions for candidates in advance of the federal election

Last July, CAN sent five questions to the Liberal, Conservative, NPD and Green party in advance of the upcoming federal elections, which we have summarized below.  Read our full questions, with context, here. 

The Green Party of Canada responded first. The questions were submitted to Mrs. Amita Kuttner, Shadow Minister of Science and Innovation for the Green Party of Canada – her response is copied here: Continue reading

Invitation to join the #VoteScience Campaign

CAN is proud to support the #VoteScience campaign, and invites all scientists to participate!

Vote science logo


Advocating for Science in the Canadian Federal Election
Science doesn’t usually get a lot of attention during elections, and we think that needs to change. We need your help to send a message that Canadians care about science.

Learn how to get involved on the website

Growing up high: Neurobiological consequences of adolescent cannabis use

Canadian neuroscientists offer insights into the long-term effects of adolescent cannabis use

Published on Eurekalert, May 25, 2019


About one in five Canadian adolescents uses cannabis (19% of Canadians aged 15-19), and its recent legalization across the country warrants investigation into the consequence of this use on the developing brain. Adolescence is associated with the maturation of cognitive functions, such as working memory, decision-making, and impulsivity control. This is a highly vulnerable period for the development of the brain as it represents a critical period wherein regulatory connection between higher-order regions of the cortex and emotional processing circuits deeper inside the brain are established. It is a period of strong remodeling, making adolescents highly vulnerable to drug-related developmental disturbances. Research presented by Canadian neuroscientists Patricia Conrod, Steven Laviolette, Iris Balodis and Jibran Khokhar at the 2019 Canadian Neuroscience Meeting in Toronto on May 25 featured recent discoveries on the effects of cannabis on the adolescent brain. Continue reading

New approaches to study the genetics of autism spectrum disorder may lead to new therapies

Published on Eurekalert, May 24, 2019


Canadian neuroscientists are using novel experimental approaches to understand autism spectrum disorder, from studying multiple variation in a single gene to the investigation of networks of interacting genes to find new treatments for the disorder.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects more than 1% of children, yet most cases are of unknown or poorly defined genetic origin. It is highly variable disorder, both in its presentation and in its genetics – hundreds of risk genes have been identified. One key to understanding and ultimately treating ASD is to identify common molecular mechanisms underlying this genetically heterogeneous disorder. Four Canadian researchers presented the results of unique approaches to understand ASD at the 14th Canadian Neuroscience Meeting in Toronto, on May 24, 2019. Continue reading

Advocacy Training: Be an effective advocate for science: Be involved & Tell your story

SfN and CAN join forces to bring you advocacy training that explains:

  • Why advocacy matters
  • How you can make an impact
  • How informing lawmakers can advance neuroscience priorities
  • How the Canadian budget process works
  • How SfN and CAN can be your resource
  • How to plan a #neuroadvocate activity


Michael Heintz, Director of Advocacy & Training at Society for Neuroscience

Melanie Woodin, Chair of the CAN advocacy committee

Julie Poupart, CAN Advocacy Officer

(you are free to use / reuse this content – please acknowledge the Society for Neuroscience and the Canadian Association for Neuroscience if you do).

Other CAN-ACN Resources

Meeting your MP

Getting ready for budget 2019

Why advocate?

13th annual Canadian neuroscience meeting

Published on Eurekalert, April 15, 2019

The Scientific Program Committee, chaired by Paul Frankland and co-chair Ruth Slack, along with local chair Julie Lefebvre, have put together an exciting roster of scientific presentations, community building events and opportunities for networking and career development.

Scientific highlights of the 2019 meeting include plenary lectures by Michelle Monje, Jeffrey Mogil, Florian Engert, Robert Malenka and Guo-Li Ming. As usual, plenary symposia featuring prominent Canadian and international speakers, and the always diverse parallel symposia proposed by our members complete the CAN scientific program.

We warmly congratulate this year’s Young Investigator laureate, Dr. Blake Richards, from the University of Toronto at Scarsborough. Dr. Richards’ research explores the neural basis of deep learning. The goal of this work is to better understand the neurobiological basis of animal and human intelligence and provide new insights to help guide AI development. His laboratory has made several important contributions to mathematical models of learning and memory in the brain. Don’t miss the CAN Young Investigator award lecture to learn more about these exciting discoveries, on May 24th, 2019 at 5:30PM.


Dr. Richards will also host the CAN public lecture, on May 21 at 6:30PM which this year features a Canadian expert in Artificial Intelligence, Dr. Geoffrey Hinton, from the University of Toronto. This event will explore the use of artificial intelligence to understand how the brain computes. (

For news media only:

Press passes are available for accredited journalist to attend the Canadian Neuroscience Meeting. Please inquire on location at the registration desk.

Full program:

Public lecture, May 21 sith Geoffrey Hinton:

Blake Richards is the 2019 CAN Young Investigator awardee

The Canadian Association for Neuroscience is proud to announce that Dr. Blake Richards, from University of Toronto at Scarborough, is the winner of the 2019 CAN Young Investigator Award

Published on Eurekalert April 15, 2019

The Canadian Association for Neuroscience is proud to announce that Dr. Blake Richards, from University of Toronto at Scarborough, is the winner of the 2019 CAN Young Investigator Award. This award recognizes his outstanding research achievements at the intersection of neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Dr. Richards will receive this prize on May 24, 2019 in Toronto, during the 13th Annual Canadian Neuroscience Meeting.

“Dr. Blake Richards’ work provides an interdisciplinary perspective, mixing theory and experiments to a degree that is truly rare, despite its importance for moving neuroscience forward in the coming decades. […] I am confident that he will continue his upward trajectory and emerge as one of the world’s leaders in computational techniques for understanding the brain.”

Melanie A. Woodin
Professor, Department of Cell and System Biology
Vice-Dean, Interdivisional Partnerships – Faculty of Arts and Science
University of Toronto

Dr. Richards’ research program focuses on neural computation, learning, and artificial intelligence (AI). Using a combination of computational modelling and advanced neuroscience and brain imaging approaches, his lab is exploring the neural basis of deep learning. The goal of this work is to better understand the neurobiological basis of animal and human intelligence and provide new insights to help guide AI development.

His laboratory has made several important contributions to mathematical models of learning and memory in the brain. These have provided new insights on the process of memory consolidation, learning in the brain and by machines, and how brain structures permit deep learning in real brains. This theoretical work has been well-recognized in both the neuroscience and AI communities, and Dr. Richards is considered a leading researcher at this disciplinary intersection. AI is currently being revolutionized with brain-inspired mechanisms.

“Despite all the progress in AI, the real brain is still the most sophisticated learning device on Earth, and no AI can yet match the general-purpose intelligence of humans. At the same time, AI can help us to revolutionize our understanding of the brain, providing means for analyzing and interpreting previously uninterpretable aspects of the biological basis of intelligence. Dr. Richards is uniquely well poised to conduct research at the interface of neuroscience and AI, thanks to his background as both a computer scientist and an experimental neuroscientist. Very few researchers in this world possess his ability to speak the languages of both machine learning and neuroscience so fluently.”

Yoshua Bengio
Scientific Director of the Mila, Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute
Full Professor, Department of Computer Science and Operations Research,
Université de Montréal

“His program of research positions him between the disciplines of AI, neurophysiology and behavioral neuroscience. It is in these spaces – the gaps between traditional research disciplines – that there is enormous scientific opportunity. Blake ably straddles these multiples fields, and he is already exploiting the riches of such an advantageous position.”

Paul Frankland, Senior Scientist
Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neurobiology
Professor, Departments of Psychology, Physiology and Institute of Medical Science
University of Toronto

Dr. Richards has received several awards and recognitions for his contributions. In 2016 he was awarded a Google Faculty Research award for his research on memory and reinforcement learning; in 2017 he became a Fellow of the CIFAR (Canadian Institute for Advanced Research) Learning in Machines and Brains Program; in 2018 he received an Early Career Researcher Award from the Government of Ontario; and most recently he was nominated as a Faculty Affiliate to the Vector Institute for AI. These recognitions are in addition to the funding he has received for his research from several highly competitive sources, including the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Human Frontier Science Program, the Allen Institute for Brain Science, and Google. Most recently, Dr. Richards was awarded one of 29 Canada CIFAR AI Chairs as part of the Pan-Canadian AI Strategy.

In addition to his research contributions, Dr. Richards has been an active member of the neuroscience and AI communities. Together with Dr. Timothy Lillicrap from Google DeepMind, he organized a workshop on deep learning and neuroscience at the 2016 Computational and Systems Neuroscience Conference (COSYNE). He also co-organized a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Brain Symposium last year, which brought together neuroscientists and machine learning experts, and which has sparked several new, interdisciplinary collaborations in the Canadian research community. And, more recently, he helped to organize a breakout session on memory consolidation at the 2018 Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience Conference in Philadelphia. Finally, Dr. Richards is recognized, by all who have worked with him in a laboratory, as a natural leader who truly enjoys mentorship.

Dr. Richards has shared his discoveries outside the scientific community, through numerous interviews to the popular press (including The New York Times, The Independent, The BBC, and NPR), and speaking arrangements at public events such as Pint of Science and NeuroTechX. He is always engaging and easy to understand in his public appearances and can act as a great ambassador for research into the links between AI and neuroscience. He has graciously accepted to host the 2019 CAN Public lecture with Geoffrey Hinton on May 21, 2019 in Toronto.

Dr. Blake Richards is an exceptional young investigator, whose work seamlessly integrates advanced neuroscience, neuroimaging, computational and artificial intelligence approaches to advance our understanding of the brain, but also to contribute to the development of artificial intelligence. The Canadian Association for Neuroscience is very proud to name him the 2019 CAN Young Investigator.

Visit the Learning in Neural Circuits (LiNC) Laboratory website:

Learn more on the 2019 CAN Young Investigator webpage:

For news media only:

Press passes are available for accredited journalists to attend Dr. Blake Richard’s CAN Young Investigator lecture, May 24th at 5:30 PM at the Sheraton Toronto Centre Hotel. Inquire by email at or at the meeting registration desk.

Congratulations to Brain Prize winners Marie-Germaine Bousser, Hugues Chabriat, Anne Joutel and Elisabeth Tournier-Lasserve

Brain Prize winnersThe Brain Prize 2019: French neuroscientists honoured for outstanding research into small vessel strokes in the brain

Aiming for treatment they have spent more than 30 years describing, understanding and diagnosing the most common hereditary form of stroke, CADASIL. For this, the four French neuroscientists are now receiving the world’s most valuable prize for brain research – the Lundbeck Foundation Brain Prize, worth 1 million euros. Continue reading