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The individual is in constant interaction with the outside world. He is constantly called upon to develop strategies in order to adapt his actions to the new information that he must integrate in order to function well in society. Thus, learning and attention processes are constantly solicited in order to allow this adaptation. These learning processes can be as simple as memorizing an address, but as complex as the development of language in young children or the resolution of complex problems in adults. The brain is, of course, at the root of all learning. It must analyze and interpret the information received by the sensory organs, process this information according to the behavioural contexts, experiences and previous learning, and produce an appropriate motor, emotional or verbal response. The operational definition of learning varies from object to object. At the cellular level, learning is expressed as neuroplasticity. At the cognitive level, learning refers to the modification of internal representations, while at the psychosocial and academic level, it refers to the acquisition of knowledge, know-how and interpersonal skills. In all cases, learning is characterized by perceptual and behavioural changes that help the individual adapt to a constantly changing environment. Many factors and mechanisms can affect learning and lead to an adapted or pathological response, at the cellular, cognitive, psychosocial and academic levels. A better understanding of these factors is therefore central to the advancement of knowledge and the development of appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic tools and interventions.

The diversity of expertise of researchers at the Université de Montréal places the institution in a unique position to address the sciences of the brain and learning from birth to old age, at the level of the cell, brain systems and the individual. It is in this context that the Université de Montréal is breaking new ground by creating the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Brain and Learning (CIRCA) funded by the FRQS. The mission of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research on Brain and Learning is to accelerate interdisciplinary research and its applications through a two-way reinforcement between the brain sciences and the disciplines that work in practice settings.

CIRCA's research will be addressed in an interdisciplinary manner by more than 60 researchers from 17 units and seven faculties on campus. Through its programming and its four thematic research axes, CIRCA proposes to act as a springboard for multidisciplinary research in learning, a field with a high potential impact on the community. To this end, the Centre will act as a true agent of transformation, helping to change mindsets and ways of doing things by providing an environment and mechanisms that allow for transcending the boundaries of research sectors.


Equity, diversity and inclusion

In all of its training activities, CIRCA will respect the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion in scientific assessment and will take concrete actions to promote the inclusion, retention and advancement of women and visible minorities who are still under-represented in science. For example information sessions at the college level and at the beginning of university studies, scholarships for the recruitment of female and visible minority students, linkage with the Université de Montréal's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Research action plan, and promoting the mixing of teams through multidisciplinary training. In the latter case, multidisciplinarity will make it possible to break down barriers and promote diversity in recruitment.

This content has been updated on 13 October 2022 at 12 h 35 min.