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Read the latest edition of CAN Connection – Fall 2021

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Message from CAN President Shernaz Bamji

Opportunity to apply for membership in the CAN committees

A call is open for applications for membership in the following CAN committees:

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee:

Advocacy Committee:

Nominations Committee:

Application deadline for all committees is September 10, 2021 (New extended deadline). Applicants must be members in good standing of CAN (dues paid)

Bourneville’s tuberous sclerosis: everything unfolds in the brain shortly after birth

Graziella Di Cristo - Image CHU Ste-Justine
Graziella Di Cristo

A Canadian research team has uncovered a new mechanism involved in Bourneville tuberous sclerosis (BTS), a genetic disease of childhood. The team hypothesizes that a mutation in the TSC1 gene causes neurodevelopmental disorders that develop in conjunction with the disease.

Seen in one in 6,000 children, tuberous sclerosis causes benign tumours or lesions that can affect various organs such as the brain, kidneys, eyes, heart and skin. While some patients lead healthy lives, others have significant comorbidities, such as epilepsy, autism and learning disabilities.

Although the role that the TSC1 gene plays in the disease is already known, Montreal scientists have only now identified a critical period in the postnatal development of GABAergic interneurons that are so important to the development of the brain. Continue reading

Shedding light on adult brain stem cells

Armen SaghatelyanA CERVO research centre team demonstrates the role of light and calcium ions in neural stem cell activation in adulthood

It has long been believed that neurons in the human brain develop only during the period from embryogenesis to adolescence. It is now known that in some areas of the brain, neural stem cells remain and give rise to neurons even in adults. “These stem cells can remain quiescent for long periods of time and we still know very little about the mechanisms that make them go from a quiescent state to an activated state,” says Armen Saghatelyan, from the Université Laval and the CERVO Brain Research Centre. Continue reading

Researchers close in on root of slow motor learning in autism

Simon Chen
Simon Chen
Image source

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