Brain & Behaviour Research

Understanding how the brain controls behaviour remains one the biggest fundamental challenges of neuroscience. How behaviours are controlled or modified, how thoughts are turned into actions and how memories are gained or lost will be understood by studying the synaptic circuitry of the brain. Neurological and mental health conditions that range from epilepsy to the mental health disorders of depression and anxiety also have their basis in structural and/or functional alterations in the circuitry of the brain. A key trigger for many brain disorders is stress. The functional circuitry of stress remains to be fully understood. Frequently affecting adolescents and young adults, understanding the basis of neurological and mental health conditions is the focus of Brain & Behaviour. One out of every three Canadians will be affected by a brain or mental health disorder in their life and early detection and treatment is often critical to a swift recovery.

Researchers in the Brain & Behaviour theme are applying collaborative approaches and cutting-edge technology to advance our understanding of the cellular communication in the brain and how it influences behaviour. This research is guiding new treatments for existing conditions as well as developing important early-stage interventions to prevent the progression of disease, particularly in young people.

Apply to join a Brain & Mental Health Team, or to read more about the teams click here.

Brain & Behaviour Teams

The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education encompasses both Stress and Mental Health.

Stress is an important trigger for mental health disorders and strongly correlated with the development of many physical conditions. The goal of the Stress Team is to better understand how the brain processes stress and how stress modifies the brain and nervous system as evidenced changes in a broad range of behaviours. Led by Dr. Matthew Hill, the team is comprised of members with diverse research interests.

Team members have diverse research interests, from depression and anxiety to chronic pain and bipolar disorder, among others. The team’s current goals are: to strengthen collaborations within this large team; to develop pilot funding for high-risk projects; and to continue creating registries that facilitate mental health research. A subset of the team holds a Brain and Mental Health Strategic Research Fund grant focusing on innovative approaches to investigate the association between mental health and school success and to test the impact of an anti-stigma intervention.

The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education:
Director – Dr. Paul Arnold
HBI SRIC representative – Dr. Matthew Hill (Deputy Director, Mathison Centre)

Mental Health team members*:
Drs. Beverly Adams, Jean AddingtonMichael Antle, Paul Arnold, Jaideep Bains, Stephanie Borgland, Chad Bousman, Signe Bray, Andrew Bulloch, Tavis Campbell, Gina Dimitropoulos, Richard Dyck, Deinera Exner-Cortens, Kirsten Fiest, Gerald Giesbrecht, Zahra Goodarzi, Grant Gordon, Stefanie Hassler, Matthew Hill, David Hodgins, Zelma Kiss, Daniel Kopala-Sibley, Nicole LetourneauKen Lukowiak, Frank MacMaster, Emilie Magaud, Daniel McGrath, Alex McGirr, Erica Makarenko, Alan McLuckie, Carly McMorris, Oury Monchi, Kartikeya Murari, Melanie Noel, David Nordstokke, Scott Patten, Samuel Pichardo, Bruce Pike, Danijela Piskulic, Quentin Pittman, Shahirose Premji, Tamara Pringsheim, Rajamannar Ramasubbu, Rebecca Haines-Saah, Tolulope Sajobi, Keith Sharkey, Frank Stahnisch, G. Campbell Teskey, Tuan Trang, Kristin Von Ransen, Gabrielle Wilcox, Richard Wilson

The Mathison Centre for Mental Health Research & Education team contact:

*Names in bold are HBI Members

The Epilepsy team has collectively chosen to focus on the postictal period, the altered state of consciousness that immediately follows an epileptic seizure. The team of basic scientists and clinical researchers successfully obtained a Brain and Mental Health Strategic Research Fund grant and are working towards a clinical trial. The team has strong links to the Alberta Children’s Research Institute (ACHRI) and builds on their strengths in epilepsy and seizure disorders to develop a translational continuum from childhood through to adulthood; from bench to bedside to population health studies.

Epilepsy Team leaders:
Primary Lead – Dr. Paolo Federico 
Co-Lead – Dr. Morris Scantlebury

Epilepsy team members*:
Drs. Colin Dalton, Roberto Diaz, Richard Dyck, Paolo Federico, Laura Flores-Sarnat, Fady GirgisBradley Goodyear, Walter Hader, Julia Jacobs-Levan,  Colin Josephson, Julia Kam, Karl Martin KleinDeborah Kurrasch, Pierre Levan, Artur Luczak, Wilten Nicola,  Minh Dang Nguyen, Penny Pexman, Samuel PichardoBruce Pike, Quentin Pittman, Andrea Protzner, Harvey Sarnat, Morris Scantlebury, Shaily Singh, Yves Starreveld, G. Campbell Teskey, Chris Vasudevan, Samuel Wiebe 

Epilepsy team contact: 
Dr. Paolo Federico

*Names in bold are HBI Members

Launched in November 2017, the Neurodevelopment team is led by Dr. Deborah Kurrasch. The team initially plans on focusing on the role of mitochondrial health in neurodevelopmental disorders, maternal influence of neurodevelopment, and neural stem cells in neurodevelopment. 

Neurodevelopment team leader: 
Dr. Deborah Kurrasch

Neurodevelopment team members*:
Drs. Jeff Biernaskie, Michael Colicos, Jay Cross, Richard Dyck, Jonathan Epp, Benedikt Hallgrimsson, Peng Huang, Deborah Kurrasch, Ken Lukowiak, Sarah McFarlane, Timothy Shutt, Ray Turner, Guang Yang

Neurodevelopment team contact:

*Names in bold are HBI Members