Friday, May 6, 2011

Brain Researchers Bringing Ideas, Discoveries to Guelph

GUELPH, Ontario May 04, 2011 - University of Guelph News Release

Neuroscience research is one of the fastest-growing areas of study at the University of Guelph, but it's still a relatively unknown field among non-experts. Hoping to change that, Guelph’s “brain professors” are inviting the public to the annual conference of the Southern Ontario Neuroscience Association, which will draw researchers from across the province to campus May 9.

“We’re working hard to share the exciting advances in neuroscience beyond our academic peers,” said Prof. Mark Fenske, Department of Psychology, who studies how the brain’s attention and emotion systems can enhance performance.

“We want to let people know how such findings relate to their day-to-day lives.”

The conference theme is learning and motivation; lecture topics will include aging, memory, emotion, and links between movement and musical rhythm. More than 100 poster presentations will discuss everything from behaviour and addiction to stroke, depression and music-dependent memory.

The all-day event will begin at 9 a.m. in Rozanski Hall. Keynote speaker Harriet de Wit, University of Chicago, will discuss determinants of human drug preferences at 11:30 a.m. A complete schedule of talks and poster presentations is available online.

“All speakers are being asked to include messages about the importance of their research for the general public and any implications for mental health,” Fenske said.

About two dozen U of G researchers from six departments study neuroscience. Their studies include protein structure in multiple sclerosis, epilepsy in dogs and cats, and drug addictions and relapses.

U of G offers a neuroscience minor through the Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences and a neuroscience graduate degree in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. Administrators plan to expand the grad degree to an interdepartmental program and to create a B.Sc. major in neuroscience.

Guelph neuroscientists host annual events such as Brain Awareness Week and Brain Bee competitions for high school students. Fenske writes about brain topics as a regular columnist for the Globe and Mail and co-wrote The Winner’s Brain: 8 Strategies Great Minds Use to Achieve Success, published in 2010.