Your brain is always changing. It is constantly processing information from your body and making sense of the world around you. And in doing so, your brain itself is changing. In fact it continues changing throughout your lifetime. You experience this change with every new skill you learn, and every old memory you forget. Neurogenesis, or the creation of new brain cells, is a primary driver of this change: cells are born then differentiate into a specific type of neuron, migrate to their destination in the brain, and then finally integrate into a new or existing network. As the new President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Brain Institute, I feel this is a fitting way to introduce myself to all of you.
Ontario Brain Institute Blog
OBI’s Integrated Discovery Programs bring together over 200 core researchers and clinicians, 35 institutions, 40 companies, and 18 patient advocacy groups from across Ontario.
Read about their latest news and progress in the updates that they have provided.
Knowledge is an important resource that can be used to affect behaviour and cause positive change. OBI’s Outreach initiatives focus on harnessing what we know to: tell stories, build community, connect evidence and care, and evaluate our work—all to make an impact on brain health in Ontario.
Dr. Ron Gonzalez is passionate about taking science out of the labs and putting it into practice. As a result of his success in doing just that, today he’s the President of Avertus Epilepsy Technologies Inc. (Avertus): a company focused on improving the lives of people with epilepsy through the development of a wearable headset that can monitor and alert people of their seizures.
OBI catalyzes the impact of brain research in Ontario by increasing collaboration among researchers, doctors, patients and their advocates, and industry partners. A key ingredient to collaboration is, of course, sharing. At OBI, a cornerstone of effective research collaboration involves sharing large quantities of data. In order for this to be done effectively, it must be stored somewhere where it can be accessed and analyzed collectively.
Brain-CODE (Brain Centre for Ontario Data Exploration) is a platform that manages the collection, storage, integration, processing and analysis of data streaming in from each of OBI’s five research programs. It allows researchers to share their discoveries and start asking novel, never-before-possible questions, and it will enable them to begin looking across brain disorders to better understand common, underlying causes.
OBI is excited to collaborate with the U.S.’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), one of the National Institutes for Health, given the opportunity to work together to make meaningful strides in autism research.
While autism, epilepsy, or depression may at first seem worlds apart, there is benefit in studying these and other brain disorders together. Each condition has unique traits, but there is often overlap. For instance, people living with autism may experience depression and people living with cerebral palsy may have seizures. Brain research is inherently complex— different disorders may share similar underlying causes and similar disorders may have very different underlying causes. Although this makes things complicated, it also creates an opportunity to borrow insights from one disorder to inform research into another disorder.
By: Anya Cyprys, OBI Intern, Outreach
What do you see when you think of autism? Up until recently, I would picture early intervention with children. But what happens once those children grow up? While early intervention and services for children are important, the needs of adults living with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have gone somewhat unnoticed. Children with ASD grow up to be adults with ASD, and continue to have needs that require supports and services.
By: Nabilah Chowdhury, OBI Intern, Research
There are a lot of folktales, sayings and “common sense” statements surrounding the topic of brain health. These statements or blurbs can be a one-liner heard on the news, a topic discussed on the radio, or even a meme on the internet. For example, “we only use 10% of our brains” is a fairly prevalent phrase – it was even the premise of the 2014 box office movie hit “Lucy.” In the movie, Morgan Freeman states, “It is estimated most human beings use only 10 %of the brain’s capacity… imagine if we could access 100%.” In fact, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that 90% of the human brain is unused. What would be a more accurate statement is that we actually have little understanding of how our brains work.
By: Atena Keshavarzian, OBI Intern, Informatics & Analytics
In this era of big data and analytics, organizations are looking for ways to make use of all the information available to facilitate innovation, decision making and operations. Big data analytics in health research has been an important topic for the past few years and making data more accessible to a larger number of researchers leads to more efficient research strategies and creates new opportunities for scientific discoveries. When scientists have the opportunity to collaborate and share data, the value of each of their work is maximized and can be built on collectively.
By: Ruma Goswami, OBI Intern, Operations
Facing the realities of a new life after experiencing a brain injury can be a source of struggle, pain, and a journey of self-discovery. Simple pleasures like playing with your children, making a delicious meal, or biking with a friend can be stripped away in an instant with injuries to the brain following motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, falls, and assaults. June is Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada and the Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) offers important services for the community including education, awareness, and support.