CAN-PROTECT is an exciting opportunity to take part in a major Canadian research study on how the brain ages. Features like brain training games were developed for participants ≥18 years of age.

Every participant is asked to nominate a study partner, a friend or family member 18 years and older who can provide additional information about them.

An additional CAN-PROTECT component was developed specifically for participants who are caregivers and care partners of persons with cognitive disorders like Alzheimer disease and related disorders.

CAN-PROTECT is run by the University of Calgary in partnership with the University of Exeter, UK.

“Dementia prevention starts early in life. In mid- and late life, we believe risk can be lowered by addressing lifestyle factors like diet and exercise, and changes in brain-related functions such as memory and thinking, stress and mental health symptoms, and sensory and motor neurological function. CAN-PROTECT will provide invaluable information on which risk factors, alone or in combination, are the best targets for dementia prevention. Importantly, these findings will be informed by a diverse, Canada-wide sample of participants and their study partners.”

Zahinoor Ismail MD, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary

Target icon


Our target for how many people will take part – half will be study partners, a friend or family member who knows you well

Time icon

< 8 hours/year

The time it takes to contribute to dementia research

Age icon

18+ years

How old you must be to participate in the study

Who can participate?

You can join the study if you:

Are aged 18 years or older
Reside in Canada
Have access to a computer/touchscreen device
Can provide informed consent
Do not have a diagnosis of dementia

Additionally, we are enrolling participants who care for persons with dementia for caregiver-specific assessments

What is involved?

Once a year, you will be asked to complete a set of questionnaires about yourself, your lifestyle and your health. Each takes an hour or less to complete. You will also be asked to take a series of online tests, to measure changes in brain function.

Examples of Cognitive Function Tests, Brain Training Games, and Questionnaires:

Cognitive Function Tests

Assess core aspects of brain function relevant to everyday activities including attention, memory, reasoning and processing.

Brain Training Games

Set of games designed to keep your brain active.

Daily Function

“Please rate how much difficulty you have had over the last month with preparing a meal and/or doing laundry.”


“How often do you normally drink something containing alcohol?”

Medical History

“Do you regularly experience pain that interferes with your day-to-day life?”

Mental Health

“People differ a lot in how much they worry about things. Did you ever have a time when you worried a lot more than most would in your situation?”


Cognitive Tasks
Repeat annually

Brain training games can be played regularly throughout the year

Find out More

What is dementia?

Dementia is a clinical condition usually marked by a progressive decline in memory and thinking, potentially with changes in mood, behaviour, or personality, that impairs function and independent living. A number of brain diseases can cause dementia, the most common being Alzheimer disease. At present there is no cure, but research is ongoing to seek better treatments and find ways to identify the disease early to prevent progression to dementia.

  • Currently, over 600,000 Canadians are living with dementia. In 2020, 15 new cases were diagnosed every hour.
  • By 2030, the number of Canadians with dementia will be one million, and by 2050 it will be 1.7 million.
  • Care partners / caregivers of persons with dementia provide countless hours of support, estimated at 26 hours per week in 2020, or the equivalent of 235,000 full-time jobs.
All figures courtesy of Alzheimer Society of Canada

What is cognitive testing?

The human brain is incredibly complex, performing countless tasks at any one time, allowing us to go about our daily lives. The word "cognitive" is used to describe the brain as it functions. Our mental processes change as we age, and the CAN-PROTECT Study is trying to understand and track this process.

The CAN-PROTECT Study uses a set of cognitive assessments to record core brain functions including attention, memory, reasoning and processing. Participants are asked to complete tests once a year.

Key Cognitive Processes Assessed by CAN-PROTECT

Brain Function What is it? Example of how we test it
Short-term/Working Memory Information is encoded, stored & retrieved You remember where shapes are on a grid or a sequence of numbers
Perception Sensory information like smells, sounds and tastes are recognised and interpreted You recognise a round shape in a grid, interpret it as a football and then perceive it again later
Attention Concentrating on particular information whilst ignoring other non-related information You demonstrate awareness of a type of object shown in a box and where the box is on a grid but ignore the object’s colour
Problem Solving Recognising a problem and finding the correct answer You work out a rule and apply it to remember where an object appears on a grid
Language Skill to translate sounds into words to communicate with other people You distinguish between words and their location in a sentence to determine the meaning of the sentence

Organisations that provide support

National organisations that provide support

Local and provincial organisations that provide support

Additional dementia research

Hotchkiss Brain Institute

Our data promise

Your data will be confidential

All personal data will be physically separate from other data collection.

Your data will be securely encrypted

Only a very small number of individuals will have access to the decryption software.

Your data will be kept private

Your data will only be used for the purposes of the CAN-PROTECT study. See our privacy notice for further information.

The people behind the project


Dr. Zahinoor Ismail

Clinician Scientist and Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, Epidemiology, and Pathology; Hotchkiss Brain Institute and O’Brien Institute for Public Health; Cumming School of Medicine; University of Calgary - CAN-PROTECT Principal Investigator

“In addition to studying brain health in persons 18 years and older, CAN-PROTECT will also enroll participants who help care for persons with dementia. This includes informal caregivers like friends and family, as well as professionals who participate in dementia care including nurses, personal care aids, occupational and recreation therapists, physicians and others. We will obtain great insights into risk and resilience in care partners. There is no other study like it.”


Dr. Pam Roach

Assistant Professor, Departments of Family Medicine and Community Health Sciences; Cumming School of Medicine

“The potential impact of CAN-PROTECT is really exciting, and that includes expanding and enhancing our understanding of aging and brain health in Canada. This will not only help us understand how to support people living with dementia but also help us better understand who to help and when to improve outcomes later in life.”


Dr. Eric Smith

Professor of Neurology and Katthy Taylor Chair in Vascular Dementia, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary

“CAN-PROTECT will provide a Canadian perspective on brain aging and risk for dementia. Participants will provide important, anonymous information for research while gaining access to interactive brain training games to challenge their own brain function.”

If you are a caregiver

heart icon  Join the CAN-PROTECT study and then find out more about the caregiver study through the My Studies section of your dashboard.

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