Welcome to the Villeneuve Lab

The Villeneuve Lab is interested in how the brain ages with a specific focus on the factors that modify the association between brain lesions and cognitive performances. Our research is motivated by the fact that more than 25% of older adults are considered cognitively normal despite the presence of beta-amyloid in their brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. This fact suggests that other factors interact with beta-amyloid to trigger the expression of cognitive deficits in Alzheimer’s disease. It also suggests that actions can be taken to prevent or postpone the expression of disease-related symptoms. The main focus of The Villeneuve Lab’s research is therefore to examine the factors that protect (or worse) the development of cognitive deficits in age-related neurodegenerative diseases. We use a multi-tier approach that includes molecular PET imaging, MRI imaging, neuropsychological testing, and genetics.

Visit our research page to learn more about our ongoing projects.


Recent News


New CIHR grant for the Villeneuve lab
23 January 2019

We are happy to announce that Dr. Villeneuve have received a 5-year grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research for the project entitled “Preventing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease pathology by targeting the effects of lifestyle factors and personality traits.

Principal Investigator: Villeneuve, Sylvia C
Co-Investigators: Breitner, John C; Collins, D. Louis; Poirier, Judes; Rajah, M. Natasha N; Soucy, Jean-Paul; Vachon-Presseau, Etienne

Read Abstract

There are over half a million Canadians living with dementia, the leading cause being Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Amyloid and tau are the pathological hallmarks of AD. They start to accumulate between one and two decades before memory impairment. We know that the apolipoprotein (APOE) 4 allele, the main genetic risk factor for AD, influences amyloid and tau accumulation. It is unclear if other factors, such as lifestyle factors (e.g. education and cognitive activity) or personality traits (e.g. optimism and neuroticism), can also modify amyloid and tau accumulation and/or if these factors can buffer the deleterious effect of APOE4 on AD pathology accumulation. Lifestyle and personality traits are of interest because they are modifiable (particularly lifestyle) and, therefore, could be prime targets for prevention efforts. The first objective of this proposal is to determine the lifestyle factors and personality traits that are associated with amyloid and tau burden in cognitively normal older adults at risk of developing AD dementia. The second objective is to determine if some lifestyle/personality factors can counteract the negative effects of APOE4 on AD pathology accumulation. Finally, we want to test if the lifestyle/personality factors can delay the clinical onset of the disease by buffering the negative impact of AD pathology on cognition. Finally, we will test if the factors influencing AD pathology differ between men and women, since we know that women are at increased risk of developing AD dementia. This work will be done in collaboration with the PREVENT-AD, a cohort of almost 400 cognitively normal or very mildly impaired older adults who have a parental history of AD-like dementia. It will focus on 120 individuals that did a brain scan to quantify amyloid and tau in vivo. This multidisciplinary study will give insights about new, sex-specific prevention strategies.

Human Amyloid Imaging conference 2019
16-18 January 2019

Dr. Villeneuve, along with Theresa, Alexa, Pierre, and Melissa attended this year’s Human Amyloid Imaging (HAI) conference in Miami to present some of their recent work. You can check their posters here: [Posters]

[photo gallery]

Villeneuve lab welcomes Anne Maass
7 January 2019

Anne is a post-doctoral researcher at DNZE Magdeburg Site, Germany. She will collaborate with the Villeneuve lab to study the relations between memory dysregulation and amyloid and tau proteins using task-fMRI data from Prevent-AD.

MAIN 2018 and McConnell BIC Retreat
10 December 2018

Congratulationss to Julie Gonneaud for receiving best poster and best abstract prizes from the Montreal AI & Neuroscience (MAIN) conference 2018 and McConnell BIC retreat event for her recent project entitled “The preclinical phase of autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by accelerated brain aging.” [poster]

Lab’s Christmas dinner
6 December 2018

A very warm Merry Christmas to all, from the Villeneuve lab team.