Renowned neuroscientist Dr. Adrian Owen headlines annual Brain Awareness Week activities

One of the world’s leading and most talked about neuroscientists is the featured speaker as the University of Lethbridge’s Department of Neuroscience celebrates Brain Awareness Week, March 14-18, 2017.

The annual week of activities, presented by researchers in the Canadian Centre for Behavioural Neuroscience (CCBN) and the Lethbridge Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, is focused on showcasing the study of neuroscience to the community and giving people the opportunity to discuss brain-related activities with researchers at the forefront of their field.

The CCBN Open House and Brain Awareness Fair takes place Saturday, Mar. 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the CCBN.

Dr. Adrian Owen, the Western University Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Imaging & Neuroscience, is the visiting guest lecturer. He’ll host a pair of talks, including a free public forum on Tuesday, March 14, 7 p.m. at the Yates Memorial Centre, where he will present The Search for Consciousness.

“Adrian Owen is one of the world’s leading researchers in the area of neuroimaging and in studying patients in a vegetative state,” says Dr. David Euston, a faculty member and researcher in the U of L’s CCBN. “His work is incredibly compelling and has garnered worldwide media attention. We’re thrilled to be able to host him as our featured lecturer for Brain Awareness Week.”

British born, Owen first came to Canada in 1992 to work in the Cognitive Neuroscience Unit at the Montreal Neurological Institute at McGill University. He returned to England and University of Cambridge in 1996 before earning his current Chair position at Western in 2010.

In 2006, he authored a groundbreaking paper in which he demonstrated that functional neuroimaging could be used to detect awareness in a patient declared to be in a vegetative state. Although these patients appear to be awake, they are completely non-responsive, failing to interact with those around them or their environment. What Owen and his team have been able to do through functional neuroimaging is show that these patients can actually communicate to those around them by simply modulating their thoughts.

The free public lecture is sponsored by the Harley Hotchkiss Memorial Fund, the Faculty Arts & Science Dean’s office and the Local Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience. The goal is to share world-leading neuroscience research with a non-specialized audience.

“Adrian Owen’s research aims to answer deep questions about consciousness, but the practical applications of his research are immediately obvious. Even better, Dr. Owen is excellent at presenting very complex topics in a way that the general public can easily understand. It should be a great talk,” adds Euston.

Brain Awareness Week also allows researchers at the CCBN to open their doors to the community to shine a light on the cutting edge work they are performing every day through an annual open house.

“We’ve designed a number of brain-related activities for all ages to take part in,” says Dr. Artur Luczak, a professor and researcher in the CCBN. “Our researchers are among the world’s best in the study of neuroscience and the discoveries they are making, right here in Lethbridge, will benefit society for years to come. This is your chance to come and take a look at some of this work.”

The CCBN Open House and Brain Awareness Fair takes place Saturday, Mar. 18 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the CCBN (north end of campus). For more information, contact or call 403-394-3915.