RRI Annual Report 2019-2020

Baycrest Health Sciences & Baycrest Foundation Publications

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DR. DONNA ROSE ADDIS Canada 150 Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory and Aging Senior Scientist, Rotman Research Institute Professor of Psychology, University of Toronto DR. JEAN CHEN Canada Research Chair in Neuroimaging of Aging Senior Scientist, Rotman Research Institute Associate Professor of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto DR. SHAYNA ROSENBAUM Adjunct Scientist, Rotman Research Institute Professor and York Research Chair, York University DEMENTIA RESEARCH Prevention Dr. Jean Chen is developing an innovative white matter imaging technique that could provide earlier markers of inflammation in the aging brain, allowing clinicians to prescribe interventions to prevent diseases, such as dementia. In parallel with this work, Dr. Chen continues to advance the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine blood fluctuations in the brain. She is a pioneer in this field and recently showed that damage to our blood vessels leads to changes in our brain networks, involving both grey and white matter. Our blood vessels naturally stiffen and lose some of their elasticity with age, but certain conditions and lifestyle factors can worsen the damage. "The good news is that there are ways to improve blood flow and heart health through everyday activities, such as exercise and healthy eating," says Dr. Chen. In combination with her ongoing research on heart and brain health, Dr. Chen's new white matter imaging technique will help advance our ability to prevent dementia by identifying and addressing disease markers earlier in life. Her work is funded by CIHR. COVID-19 RESEARCH When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, our researchers quickly mobilized to better understand and address the virus' many impacts on our lives. As a result, the RRI has developed greater collaborations with various Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN) hospitals to support COVID-19-related research in various domains, from biobanking to molecular biology to human testing. Some RRI scientists are examining the effects of infection on brain structure and function, for example, through the NEUROCOVID19 study; others are investigating the impact of the pandemic on mental health and cognitive function in older adults; still others are researching potential disinfection techniques to reuse personal protective equipment. In addition, Clinician Scientist Dr. Linda Mah has been appointed as an expert member of Ontario's COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, which will inform Ontario's response to the pandemic based on scientific progress across different fields. As just one example of the many COVID-19-related studies underway at the RRI, Dr. Shayna Rosenbaum and Dr. Donna Rose Addis are investigating whether imagining the post-pandemic future can encourage people to follow protective measures against COVID-19 in the present. This York University-led study, funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), will help the Public Health Agency of Canada to maximize compliance with public health measures such as physical distancing. "It's natural to favour more immediate and certain rewards. However, we all have a tipping point where we're willing to wait for or gamble on a delayed or uncertain reward that will ultimately be a better outcome," says Dr. Addis. "These tendencies in our decision-making have important implications in the context of COVID-19: Do we follow public health guidelines and forego gathering with friends now, and opt for the longer-term and less certain reward of the pandemic ending and returning to normal life?" Drs. Rosenbaum and Addis have created imagination-based interventions to nudge people towards making safer choices now for a better future. They are working with research collaborators around the globe and have access to over 2.8 million frontline workers as potential participants through an industry partner. Visit Baycrest's news section to learn about our latest research. 2 ROTMAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE

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