2019 CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee

On May 24-25, 2019, high school students from across Canada came to McMaster University to compete for the CIHR Canadian National Brain Bee championship. This competition tests knowledge of neuroscience and skills at patient diagnosis and neuroanatomy.  Competitors represented local brain bees from across Canada: Victoria, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, London, Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, and Newfoundland. The winner of this year's competition is Jenny Sun from the Edmonton Brain Bee. Congratulations Jenny!  Jenny will represent Canada at the International Brain Bee in September in Daegu, South Korea. 

Link:  https://brainbee.ca


Studying how musicians communicate non-verbally during performance

Researchers from PNB have found a way to measure the communication of emotion among musicians by analyzing their movements in detail. They have shown that communication in body sway is key to achieving a common emotion expression. Observing performances by the Gryphon Trio, an acclaimed chamber music ensemble, researchers fitted each performer with motion capture markers to track their movements while the musicians played happy or sad musical excerpts, once with musical expression, once without.

“Successfully performing music with a group is a highly complex endeavor,” explains Laurel Trainor, the senior author on the study and director of the LIVELab where the work was conducted.
The findings were published in the journal, Scientific Reports.

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Congratulations to PNB’s Daphne Maurer

Daphne Maurer, professor emeritus and Distinguished University Professor, has been elected Fellow of the AAAS for her ground-breaking research on the development of vision in human infants.

Maurer has received a number of honours throughout her career. In 2007, she was appointed fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She is also a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and was awarded the 2015 Donald O.Hebb Distinguished Contribution Award from the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science. In 2017, she was the recipient of an honourary degree from McMaster.

She is among 416 new Fellows to be honoured this year by AAAS for their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. Election as an AAAS Fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. New Fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a rosette pin on February 16, 2019 at the AAAS Annual Meeting, taking place in Washington,D.C. 

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Welcome to McMaster’s Canada 150 Research Chair

Jonathan Pruitt photo

The Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour welcomes Jonathan Pruitt, McMaster’s Canada 150 Research Chair in Biological Dystopias. Pruitt, an internationally recognized evolutionary ecologist, will be joining McMaster University on July 1 as a member of our Department. He comes to McMaster from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The Canada 150 Research Chair program is designed to help Canadian universities attract the world’s top researchers and scholars to Canada. In total, 24 Canada 150 Research Chairs were appointed across Canada. Pruitt’s appointment was announced by the Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, Kirsty Duncan at a ceremony in Ottawa in March.

His research program focuses on how the collective traits of different animal societies – including those of ants, wasps and spiders – affect their survival. “My research explores what it takes for animal societies to succeed and why it is that so many societies wither and die,” says Pruitt who creates experimental social groups made up of contrasting organizations, compositions, architectures and collective attributes, and then subjects them to a range of ecological challenges.

He monitors their performance to observe what traits enable some societies to proliferate and take over a landscape, and what doesn’t. Working with McMaster researchers, he plans to expand his studies of societal collapse in invertebrates to studies on vertebrate social groups, including humans. Maureen MacDonald, Dean of the Faculty of Science, says Pruitt’s work will have a significant impact in the field of animal behaviour and will build on the Faculty’s already defined strengths in this area. “Jonathan is recognized as an international leader in his field and his work complements so much of the leading-edge work coming out of the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour,” she said. “We’re excited for him to bring his robust research program to McMaster, develop interdisciplinary research initiatives with colleagues across the Faculty and University, and expand the scope of our animal and human behaviour research.”

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