Sivaniya Subramaniapillai

Sivaniya Subramaniapillai is a PhD candidate in the Department of Psychology at McGill University. Her research aims to characterize brain-aging trajectories of women and men and understanding the lifestyle factors that contribute to healthy aging. Sivaniya is excited about fostering scientific dialogue between the research community and the public in a way that promotes greater inclusivity and public engagement.

Taking off the white coat

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.

Reflecting the light of this year’s QBIN Rising Star: Dr. Bratislav Misic

The second annual Rising Star in Bio-imaging in Quebec was awarded to Dr. Bratislav Misic, Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery at McGill University. Dr. Misic leads the Network Neuroscience lab at the Montreal Neurological Institute, where he and his team investigate how brain networks — the interactions between brain regions — support complex behaviour. We sat down with Dr. Misic for a chat to learn more about him and his research trajectory, and were struck by his humility and positivity. It was a breath of fresh air during these trying times. We hope our interview with Dr. Misic serves as a source of inspiration and wisdom for you, as much as it did for us.

This is your brain on COVID: Is the pandemic changing human nature?

With the COVID-19 pandemic persisting for close to a year now, our daily routines and habits have changed dramatically. Those of us working from home have only a short commute from our beds to our desks, which may be convenient, but also reduces our exposure to different environments and blurs boundaries between work and leisure. Those who have lost their jobs or are shouldering childcare responsibilities on top of their work are facing numerous other challenges and changes to their lives, all of which may have lasting consequences. Most obviously, the change in routine due to public health restrictions has resulted in the visible dwindling of our social interactions. Could it be that the pandemic-related shift in our normal routines is also fundamentally changing the way we think and behave as human beings? It might be too early to tell but it’s definitely an interesting question to speculate about.

Fighting loneliness with intergenerational Wisdom Exchange

Although physical distancing does not necessarily mean social distancing, as it was first referenced in the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are often one and the same. Being social usually means spending time with others in a shared physical space, which is undeniably different than the virtual interactions that have become the accepted norm. Seeing our friends and family from behind a monitor is especially dissatisfying when we are only kilometers apart, and while having hundreds of social media “friends” means that we are in many ways more connected than ever, greater use of social media has actually been linked to increased loneliness.

QBIN Annual Scientific Day 2020

Despite a raging snowstorm characteristic of Montreal winters on February 7th, attendance at this year’s annual QBIN Scientific Day was higher than ever, with almost all of the 220 registered participants from across the province braving the weather to attend the event. Some attendees even made their way over from Toronto and Marseilles, and although weather-related flight cancellations prevented one of our keynote speakers from attending, the bad weather did not stop the day from being a big success!

Gender differences in memory: Does brain function tell a different story?

Aging is often associated with memory loss for personal events and their rich contextual detail (known as episodic memory). Episodic memory is the type of memory that allows you to remember where you parked your car in a mall parking lot, or whether or not you took your medication earlier in the day. It is also intricately involved with your personal identity, enables you to learn from past experiences, and helps you plan for your future.

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