A new experimental therapy for ALS and fronto-temporal dementia

Jean-Pierre Julien’s team recently published an article in the high impact journal, the Journal of Clinical Investigations, about a new experimental therapy for ALS and frontotemporal dementia based on the use of antibodies that target the abnormal accumulation of a protein called TDP-43 in degenerating neurons. The formation of TDP-43 aggregates is associated with ALS development. Continue reading

Spinal cords contribute to complex hand function

Andrew Pruszynski

We often think of our brains as the centre of complex motor function and control, but how ‘smart’ is your spinal cord? Turns out, it is smarter than we think.

Circuits which travel down the length of our spine control things like the pain reflex in humans and some motor-control functions in animals. Now, new research from Western has shown that the spinal cord is also able to process and control more complex functions, like the positioning of your hand in external space. Continue reading

Brain scan series aid concussed rugby players

Ravi Menon
Ravi Menon

Researchers at Western have developed an objective way to monitor female athletes’ concussion injury, by using brain scans to study their brains over time.

By using a technique that combines both structural and functional MRI information, Western University researchers were able to identify three unique signatures – one that shows acute brain changes after an athlete has suffered a concussion, another that can identify persistent brain changes six months after the concussion and a third that shows evidence of concussion history. Continue reading

Hormone could slow Alzheimer’s progression

Fernanda De Felice
Fernanda De Felice

Queen’s University researcher discovers potential new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

Queen’s University researcher Fernanda De Felice (Psychiatry), along with co-authors from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, have identified an exercise-linked hormone that could slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. This research was recently published in the high-profile publication, Nature Medicine. Continue reading

Gut hormone increases response to food

Alain Dagher
Dr. Alain Dagher

Ghrelin promotes conditioning to food-related odours

The holiday season is a hard one for anyone watching their weight. The sights and smells of food are hard to resist. One factor in this hunger response is a hormone found in the stomach that makes us more vulnerable to tasty food smells, encouraging overeating and obesity. New research on the hormone ghrelin was published on Dec. 4, 2018, led by Dr. Alain Dagher’s lab at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University. Continue reading

VIP type neurons connect two brain regions involved in memory consolidation

Lisa Topolnik
Lisa Topolnik

Researchers have discovered a type of neuron that would coordinate the consolidation of memory

In an article published today in Nature Communications, researchers from Université Laval and Oxford University report having discovered a new type of neuron in the mouse brain. These neurons connect two structures associated with memory and may coordinate the consolidation of information about contextual or episodic memory. Continue reading

Can’t sleep? Fruit flies and energy drinks offer new clues

Peco, van Meyel, Davla
Peco, van Meyel, Davla

Source: MUHC Newsroom

Sleep is an essential behavioural state in animals ranging from invertebrates to humans. It is critical for immune function, stable metabolism, brain repair, learning and memory. Over the course of a lifetime, more than 30 per cent of people will experience a sleep disorder, which is associated with a number of diseases including Alzheimer’s, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Continue reading

Immune cells cross-talk to prevent damage-driving inflammation following CNS injury

Samuel David
Samuel David

New research by Samuel David at McGill University provides new insight on the role of macrophages and resident microglia following injury to the central nervous system. 

Infiltrating monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs) and resident microglia dominate at sites of central nervous system (CNS) injury. These cells have different origins – MDMs arise from the bone marrow throughout life, while microglia arise from the yolk sac during embryonic development and populate the CNS. Continue reading

Identification of a brain region involved in controlling pupil dilatation to optimize vision

Doug Munoz
Doug Munoz

New research by Chin-An Wang and Douglas Munoz, at Queen’s University, shows that a brain region called the intermediate superior colliculus (SCi) helps regulate the size of the pupil to optimize visual sensitivity and sharpness. Interestingly, brain processing of an object begins even before one shifts their gaze towards the object.  This research shows that the size of the pupil is adjusted to the light level of the target, independent of the general light level, before the movement of the eyes towards this target. Continue reading