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Elevating human well-being


Professor lands $1.5M for brain-health research

The Weston Family Foundation awarded Simon Bacon, professor of health, kinesiology and applied physiology, $1.5 million over three years to further his groundbreaking brain-health research on the impact of health behaviours and lifestyle on chronic diseases. 

Bacon holds the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research Mentorship Chair in Innovative, Patient-Oriented, Behavioural Clinical Trials and is also co-director of the Montreal Behavioural Medicine Centre. The project will study patients undergoing bariatric surgery, which helps people lose weight, and how dramatic changes in their diet and the bacteria in their stomach, the gut microbiome, can impact their brain structure and function.  

The aim is to identify eating patterns that can improve cognitive health and reduce the risk of cognitive decline. Bacon asks: “Wouldn’t it be great to know that if we eat more of X food, we might be sharper at work or be able to maintain conversations with families for longer?”

Insomnia increases the likelihood of older adults’ memory decline

Insomnia increases the likelihood of older adults’ memory decline

A Canadian study published in the journal SLEEP revealed that people aged between 45 and 85 with insomnia are at greater risk of developing memory decline and long-term cognitive impairment such as dementia. Study participants who reported worsening sleep quality in a three-year interval from 2019 to 2022 also had greater odds of reporting subjective memory decline. 

“We found that insomnia specifically was related to worse memory performance compared to those who have some insomnia symptoms alone or no sleep problems at all,” says the study’s co-lead author Nathan Cross, a postdoctoral fellow at Concordia’s Sleep, Cognition and Neuroimaging Lab. 

Nuria de Zavalia of Concordia’s Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology

Nuria de Zavalia

Alcohol consumption affected by circadian-rhythm-linked protein

Research published in the Nature journal Communications Biology showed that the reason we drink alcohol is at least partly due to the presence of the Bmal1 gene in the area of the forebrain that regulates, among other things, decision-making and reward perception. Interestingly, male mice without the protein consumed more alcohol than those with it, while the reverse was true for female mice. Bmal1 is integral in regulating the sleep-wake cycle in the master circadian clock found in all mammals. 

Nuria de Zavalia, research associate and lab manager at Concordia’s Center for Studies in Behavioral Neurobiology, led the study, supervised by Shimon Amir, professor of psychology.  

Pilot project bringing art therapy to newcomers

Jude Ibrahim, an MA in art therapy student, initiated and led a pilot project for the Concordia Arts in Health Centre in collaboration with the Refugee Centre, Montreal Therapy Centre and Montreal Museum of Fine Art. The project provided affirmative and culturally relevant mental-health services to newcomers through the development of an art therapy internship with the organizations.

The project offered short-term, individual art therapy sessions and museum-based group art therapy sessions for recently arrived mothers. “Newcomers and refugees face multifaceted obstacles and barriers throughout their forced migration journey,” Ibrahim says, which pose “a tremendous strain on their mental health and well-being.” 

Shirin Emadi-Mahabadi

Shirin Emadi-Mahabadi

Female employment increasingly at risk due to COVID-19

A paper co-authored by Shirin Emadi-Mahabadi, MBA 21, published in the European Journal of Business Management Research, argued that while companies acknowledge a direct relationship between an inclusive work environment and a healthy bottom line, too many have discarded inclusivity practices following the COVID-19 outbreak — which is not just bad for women but for the company’s future growth and profitability.

“As we point out in the study, women are 12 times more likely to step away from their jobs to take care of family members. And if they stay, they may see their careers suffer due to reduced ability to focus on their work,” says Emadi-Mahabadi.

Researchers find patterns and predictors of physical distancing adherence

Sasha MacNeil, a Vanier Scholar and PhD candidate in clinical psychology, reports that age, education and employment status are only a few reasons why some are more willing than others to follow public health guidelines. “We wanted to identify different patterns of adherence to physical distancing,” MacNeil says of a study she led that was published in the journal Psychology & Health

The findings reveal four distinct physical-distancing trajectories from respondents. The largest group, “high adherents,” constituted 50 per cent of respondents. The rest, “slow decliners,” “fluctuating adherents” and “fast decliners,” who exhibited poorer adherence, held common beliefs: perceptions of lower self-efficacy, higher barriers and lower prosocial attitude. 

Concordia-developed biosensor system detects rotten meat more easily

A group of Concordia researchers designed a new, inexpensive, reliable and consumer-friendly technology that identifies the presence of the dangerous toxin putrescine in beef. The researchers explain how they developed the paper-based synthetic biosensor in the journal Applied Bio Materials using a protein found in nature.

“We wanted to make a device that anyone could use, that is disposable and contained no toxic materials,” explains lead author Alaa Selim, MSc 22, now pursuing her PhD at the University of Saskatchewan. Her co-authors include her former PhD student colleagues at the Shih Microfluidics Lab, led by Steve Shih, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. 

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