Congratulations to the Royal Society of Canada Class of 2020

Royal Society of Canada class of 2020

Congratulations to the Canadian neuroscientists newly elected fellows of the Royal Society of Canada, and to the incoming class of the college of new scientists.

“The Royal Society of Canada is delighted to recognise this year’s exceptional cohort of inductees, as the contributions of these outstanding artists, scholars and scientists have significantly impacted their respective disciplines at both national and international levels.” says RSC President Jeremy McNeil.
Congratulations to the following Canadian neuroscientists elected to this prestigious Society!

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Vascular development may be at risk in autism

Early deficits in the formation of brain blood vessels translate into later autistic traits in miceBaptiste LAcoste OHRI

A Canadian collaboration led by Dr. Baptiste Lacoste has undertaken the first ever in-depth study of vasculature in the autistic brain. The product of four years of work, a paper published in the September issue of Nature Neuroscience lays out several lines of novel evidence that strongly implicate defects in endothelial cells—the lining of blood vessels—in autism.

Dr. Lacoste, a scientist at The Ottawa Hospital and an assistant professor in the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine and Brain and Mind Research institute, heads a lab that specializes in neurovascular interactions in health and disease. In collaboration with researchers at McGill University, Laval University, and the National Research Council of Canada, Dr. Lacoste’s team used a mouse model with one of the most common genetic mutations found in autism spectrum disorder—16p11.2 deletion, or “16p” for short. Continue reading

Unlocking the mysteries of the brain

Roberto Araya
Roberto Araya

A research team at CHU Sainte-Justine highlights the mechanisms underlying memory and learning capacity – specifically, how our brains process, store and integrate information.

How does our brain store information?

Seeking an answer, researchers at CHU Sainte-Justine and Université de Montréal have made a major discovery in understanding the mechanisms underlying learning and memory formation.

The results of their study are presented in Nature Communications.

Led by Professor Roberto Araya, the team studied the function and morphological transformation of dendritic spines, tiny protrusions located on the branches of neurons, during synaptic plasticity, thought to be the underlying mechanism for learning and memory. Continue reading

Nanotubes in the eye that help us see

Luis Alarcon-Martinez, Adriana Di Polo, Deborah Villafranca-Baughman - Photo credit: CHUM
Luis Alarcon-Martinez, Adriana Di Polo, Deborah Villafranca-Baughman – Photo credit: CHUM

Researchers at the CRCHUM find a new structure by which cells in the retina communicate with each other, regulating blood supply to keep vision intact

Montreal, August 12, 2020 — A new mechanism of blood redistribution that is essential for the proper functioning of the adult retina has just been discovered in vivo by researchers at the University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM).

Their study was published in Nature.

“For the first time, we have identified a communication structure between cells that is required to coordinate blood supply in the living retina,” said Dr. Adriana Di Polo, a neuroscience professor at Université de Montréal and holder of a Canada Research Chair in glaucoma and age-related neurodegeneration, who supervised the study. Continue reading

CAN Submission to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finances

We have made the following recommendations

Recommendation 1: That the government of Canada provide a one-time 25% increase in investment in the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for research restart and recovery from the setback of the COVID-19 pandemic to research laboratories in Canada.

Recommendation 2: The government should commit to providing robust and reliable funding for basic discovery research to sustain and grow Canada’s scientific community. Funding to the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) should be increased by at least 10% yearly, until commensurate with other G7 countries. This recommendation is in accordance with the Fundamental Science Review and will ensure Canada’s research ecosystem is healthy and resilient to face any future challenge. Continue reading

Sodium found to regulate the biological clock of mice

Charles BourqueNew study published in Nature by Claire Gizowski and Charles Bourque is first to establish physiological signals influence circadian rhythms

A new study from McGill University shows that increases in the concentrations of blood sodium can have an influence on the biological clock of mice, opening new research avenues for potentially treating the negative effects associated with long distance travel or shift work. Continue reading

CAN Statement on Racism, Discrimination and Violence

This is a tragic and painful time for the Black community all over the world, including here in Canada. The Canadian Association for Neuroscience condemns racism in all its forms. The tragic death of George Floyd and many others obligate all of us to reflect on important questions about systemic forms of racism present in our society today. Continue reading

McGill Researchers provide real-time evidence that neurons that fire out of sync, lose their link, exploring the mechanisms underlying “Stentian plasticity”

Ruthazer lab image
Ruthazer lab image

It has long been appreciated that sensory experience helps to refine the connectivity of the brain during development.  In 1949, Canadian psychologist Donald Hebb proposed that when different brain cells were consistently active at the same time as one another and acted in synchrony, the connections they formed would be strengthened as a result of their cooperation.  This so-called “Hebb rule” for circuit remodeling is sometimes restated as “cells that fire together, wire together.”, and helps explain how the wiring of the brain could be fine-tuned in response to sensory input. Fast forward 70 years and many of the artificial neural networks we rely on today to make accurate predictions from large datasets rely on digital implementations of various learning rules, including variants of Hebb’s rule, that underlie their ability to learn associations.  Continue reading