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Science > Neuroscientists

Meet Adrian

Learn about Adrian Owen, Chief Scientific Officer of Creyos (formerly Cambridge Brain Sciences), and the renowned neuroscientist behind the research.

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Adrian Owen

Who is Adrian?

Adrian Owen is the renowned neuroscientist behind Creyos. He has developed the tasks and conducted the research behind them for over 25 years.

Owen is the former Canada Excellence Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at Western University. His work has spanned a variety of research areas, and a variety of locations, from Canada to Cambridge, UK—which is where the original company name (Cambridge Brain Sciences) came from.

The Work

Pioneering new techniques that combine neuroimaging with neuropsychological studies, Owen continues to unravel the secrets of the human brain.

He is perhaps best known for his work with patients who appear to be in a vegetative state. These people are locked in their bodies, appearing completely non-responsive—however, with functional scanning of their brains, Owen has revealed that they have a rich mental life.

They can even respond to questions using thoughts that show in brain scans. This research has led to prominent appearances in media outlets all over the world. Owen’s book Into the Gray Zone chronicles his journey into this borderline between life and death.

The Science Behind

Owen’s cognitive testing research and the Creyos tasks have been extensively used to make discoveries about disorders that affect the brain, such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, depression, autism, and ADHD. Studies of healthy people have also revealed how cognition changes over the lifespan, and in response to lifestyle choices such as hobbies and exercise.

Today, Adrian’s lab at the Brain and Mind Institute continues to perform groundbreaking research, much of which uses and contributes to Cambridge Brain Sciences.

owen academic affiliations

Science > History

Our History

Learn about Adrian Owen, Chief Scientific Officer of Creyos (formerly Cambridge Brain Sciences), and the renowned neuroscientist behind the research.


Before computers, cognitive testing used paper, pencils, cards, and clunky gadgets. In one 1960 experiment, climbers near Mount Everest completed a card sorting experiment within their tents. It turned out that at such a high altitude, cognition operated a bit slower.


A team at the University of Cambridge began to harness the emerging technology of personal computers, building on earlier tests and growing scientific understanding of the brain to develop tests specifically designed to assess brain function.


By 1990, the idea of using computers for cognitive testing was still pretty radical, but the team at Cambridge, including Adrian Owen, moved forward with the use of computerized testing in neuropsychology.

Early versions of the Cambridge Brain Sciences (now Creyos) tests were based on the study of patients with damage to specific parts of their brains. By knowing where the damage occurred, the tests could target the specific brain networks that underpin performance.

Rather than only measuring how good a person is at a test, these new tests targeted the brain regions responsible for functioning in everyday life.


With the advent of brain imaging, the tests were adapted so they could be used in scanning machines, leading to additional revolutionary discoveries about how cognition results from the structure and function of the brain.

The Creyos tasks have the unique advantage of being built from the ground up to measure cognition based on what we know about the organ that gives rise to all of our thoughts and abilities: the brain.

1997 — 2009

Functional neuroimaging technologies, such as positron emission tomography (PET) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), continue to evolve.

By directly viewing the inner workings of the brain, the cognitive tests were further validated and refined, leading to discoveries about how our brains accomplish tasks we perform every day.


The Internet proved to be another enabling technology in the pursuit of understanding the brain. Moving the tests online unlocked the ability to conduct some of the largest cognition studies ever done.

Experiments with tens of thousands of participants all over the world have been published in high-profile journals.


In a paper published in Nature, the tests were used to put commercial brain training to the test.

Partnering with the BBC, and using an early version of the Creyos tasks (called Cambridge Brain Sciences at the time) to collect data, the results were revealed on a special episode of the television series Bang Goes the Theory: commercial brain training did not have far-reaching effects on cognition.

It got us thinking: what does help boost cognition?


The concept of IQ was tackled next. Almost 45,000 people took the tests to see if intelligence could be boiled down to a single number. It turned out that it couldn’t.

At least three separate neural systems were required to explain performance: reasoning, short-term memory, and verbal ability.


With large-scale online studies proven to work, we opened these powerful tools up to the larger scientific community. Cambridge Brain Sciences for Researchers (now Creyos Research) was launched in 2012 to allow any researcher to use our scientifically-validated tests in studies run over the Internet, significantly simplifying the data collection process while allowing anybody in the world to participate.

Since then, hundreds of scientific studies have been run, with results published in top journals. Learn more about the research published using Creyos cognitive tasks.


A chance connection led Adrian to meet Marc Lipton, an investor with a passion for neuroscience seeking out an opportunity in the brain health space.

2015 — 2016

Adrian and Marc, excited about the opportunity of using Adrian’s research to benefit everybody, begin to transform the cognitive tasks into a tool that can be used to easily measure cognitive health and contribute to scientific research.

Together, they brought together a passionate team of scientists, product designers and software architects to build an entirely new offering, helping deliver validated brain health insights to the masses in a modern and accessible way.

2017 — Today

Now, the same tests that have been validated with over 30 years of research are available to healthcare providers and researchers through Creyos. We've also gone one step further and integrated digital versions of standardized health questionnaires (like the PHQ-9, MDQ, and GAD-7) to make it even easier to assess brain health digitally.

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