Funding: Research to understand working memory receives new funding

The US National Science Foundation (NSF) has granted $50 million to support an international network of neuroscience researchers, including a group from the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry.

Dr. Julio Martinez-Trujillo, Lyle Muller, PhD, Wataru Inoue, PhD, and Stefan Everling, PhD, are part of the Next Generation Networks for Neuroscience (NeuroNex) . Theirs is one of four NeuroNex projects covered by the NSF’s funding, receiving $10 million during the next five years. Neuronex takes an interdisciplinary approach to neuroscience’s greatest questions, exploring many aspects how brains work and interact with their environment. The researchers at Western University will receive $1 million.

The team’s project, led by neuroscientist Dr. Amy Arnsten out of Yale University, was conceptualized by Dr. Martinez-Trujilloat Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, and investigates how humans developed the ability to picture something in our minds without experiencing any sensory input.

The answer to understanding mental representation and working memory lies in the brain’s molecular make-up, its neural pathways, as well as its patterns and behaviours. The research requires a wide breadth of expertise and the combined efforts of a diverse global team of investigators working in synergy to map the vast landscape of the brain.

“The goal is to pinpoint the specializations that allow the brain to produce mental representations using the most advanced technologies and a unique team strength,” said Dr. Martinez-Trujillo, Professor in Physiology and Pharmacology and scientist at Robarts Research Insitute. “Once we have this knowledge, we will better understand the mind, how it breaks during mental disease and how we can fix it.”

NeuroNex brings together 70 researchers from four different countries.

In addition to the National Science Foundation’s grant, this initiative receives funding from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the DFG German Research Foundation.