Magnetic Resonance Imaging, often referred to as MRI, is a term you’ve probably come across before, but the inner workings of this advanced medical technology might seem like a puzzle. With roughly 30 million MRI scans performed every year in the United States, MRI is the third most commonly used imaging technique after X-rays and computed tomography (CT) scans, and the second most used neuroimaging technique after electroencephalography (EEG). Don’t let these jargon-heavy terms intimidate you – by the end of this blog post, you will have a better understanding of how MRI works. So bear with me and think of me as your friendly guide in unraveling this captivating yet intricate subject.
From the sudden agony of stepping on a Lego block to persistent aching from chronic conditions, everyone experiences pain. Sometimes we know the pain will subside quickly and we can just tough it out, but other times it’s more than we can (or want to) handle on our own. The quest for pain relief has led humans to explore a vast array of treatments, from traditional painkillers to alternative therapies like massages and ice packs. Pain is an essential evolutionary mechanism, serving to ensure our survival and reproduction. Even so, I’m sure most people would opt to take an Advil to stop a headache rather than worrying about the growth of our family tree.
In Canada, 38% of adults between the age of 20 and 79 years old suffer from hearing loss, and many never receive treatment. Furthermore, scientists have found that hearing loss often precedes diagnoses of age-related dementia by 5 to 10 years, suggesting that difficulty in hearing may contribute to cognitive decline – an interesting link that is supported by imaging studies showing functional and anatomical changes in the brains of older adults.
It is the end of the semester again and your exams are fast approaching. Your new year’s resolution was to go from expert in procrastination to expert in time management, and yet here you are again, trying to learn three and a half months of school material in one week. Like always, you have convinced yourself that in one week, you will be able to learn, understand, and memorise all the facts and theories you need to know to pass your exams. At first, cramming doesn’t sound so bad, but as the sleepless nights turn to exhausting days, you notice it becomes harder and harder. You find yourself reading the same sentence over and over as if it’s written in a foreign language. Your flash cards and clever mnemonic devices aren’t helping as much as they did yesterday. Panic starts to set in as you realise that this is taking more time than you have left, and you wonder: “why is my memory failing me now?!”. Well, it’s likely that those sleepless nights could be taking a toll on your brain because of the interesting relationship between sleep and memory.
How many times have you asked yourself whether your research has a broader impact on society? Why is it so hard to quantify the impact of our scientific endeavors? I recently sat down with a few prominent neuroscientists who are members of both QBIN and the Transforming Autism Care Consortium (TACC) network. I wanted to get a sense of the state of the art in autism bio-imaging research and what the motivating factors and benefits are behind collaborative science and inter-network initiatives in Quebec.
Most academics have at some point in their lives been asked by a well-meaning friend or relative when they will get a “real job”. While the natural response is to defensively explain that completing a PhD or a postdoc is in fact a real job, the question itself is not completely out of line. While for many career paths, people enter the job market directly after an undergraduate degree or an apprenticeship, research training takes many more years – up to ten years from the start of a PhD program to landing a permanent position (with no guarantees!).
Aging is a normal part of life, and just like the rest of the body, the brain changes as we get older. In normal aging, most people will eventually experience some changes in the way they think, like slower processing speeds or certain types of memory loss, although skills and knowledge tend to remain stable or are even improved over time.
QBIN is proud to have sponsored the 2nd edition of the Gradients of Brain Organisation workshop, which took place on the 16th of June, 2021. In total, 395 individuals from around the world registered for the event. At the peak on the zoom call, 164 individuals were online and many more watched the livestream on Vimeo.
Early one January morning, I hurried out of bed and dashed to the front curb, worried that I would be late to take out my garbage and recycling in time for the collectors. Still in my pajamas with unbrushed teeth and hair, I hadn’t noticed a woman nearby rummaging through my neighbours’ recycling bags to collect bottles for consignment. She approached me to ask for any refundable bottles from my bag. Suppressing my discomfort at the idea of a stranger examining my waste, I opened my bag to allow her to investigate. She sparked a conversation about her distrust of the COVID-19 vaccine and warned me to avoid it at all costs. When I asked her why, she replied that the government had implanted a tracking device in the vaccine so that they could monitor us at all times. She told me that since we had never needed this vaccine before, it is suspicious for the government to insist on it now. I was so completely dumbfounded that I hardly knew how to respond.
Video games are more popular and more profitable than ever before. Having come a long way since the arcade hits of decades past like Pong and Pac-Man, modern video games often have incredible photorealistic 3D graphics as well as complex narratives and engaging storylines that have helped them outperform even cinema in terms of profit and share of the entertainment industry. Video game players get to become part of the narrative by virtually embodying characters through gameplay, which often runs for over 20 hours or more, rather than just observing the story from the outside for 1-2 hours of film. As a result, people often report that video games can to some extent elicit far stronger emotional responses than movies, making it somewhat unsurprising that many games end up with cult-like followings of devoted fans waiting anxiously for the next release.