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January 29, 2024
The game increases cognitive engagement while shedding light on other dementia risk factors.

Toronto, ONBaycrest’s Defy Dementia team has partnered with the creators of Canuckle and Canoku to create a uniquely Canadian, educational and brain-healthy version of the beloved logic puzzle sudoku: the Canoku Brain Health Edition. In this new edition, Canoku’s iconic symbols (“emojis”) that represent all quintessential northern elements are swapped out with those that speak to cognitive health.

The Canoku Brain Health Edition, ideated by Dr. Allison Sekuler, President & Chief Scientist, Baycrest Academy for Research and Education and the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), and Mark and Jeff Rogers, the brothers and creators behind Canuckle and Canoku, will launch on January 29, just in time for National Puzzle Day

Following the same rules as sudoku, players will populate cells with emojis (rather than numbers) that symbolize exercise, sleep, social engagement, nutrition, cognitive engagement, hearing, vision and air quality – all of which are modifiable lifestyle factors that can reduce risk factors for dementia, as described on Baycrest’s Defy Dementia podcast and website, supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada. A Canadian flag emoji is also included in true Canuckle fashion!

“Our Grandma suffered from dementia in the last few years of her life, so we have a very personal connection to this cause,” say Mark and Jeff. “She would have loved playing this game and would be pleased to know that her grandsons created a game to help keep minds active and reduce dementia risk. We are proud to be partnering with Dr. Sekuler and the team at Baycrest to create Canoku Brain Health Edition.”

One modifiable dementia risk factor is cognitive engagement, which can be improved by playing logic games and puzzles such as Canoku. In addition to shedding light on dementia risk factors via game emojis, the Canoku Brain Health Edition links players to resources where they can learn more about how they can improve their cognitive health. For example, Baycrest’s Defy Dementia website contains podcasts co-hosted by Dr. Sekuler and Canadian science journalist Jay Ingram, as well as short animated videos, infographics and other information about how people can enhance their brain health and decrease their dementia risk.

 “Improving certain lifestyle factors, such as getting enough high-quality sleep, maintaining social connections and eating a brain-healthy diet (among other factors, which may be surprising to some people) is so important because at least 40% of dementia cases could be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle,” says Dr. Sekuler. “This is why we’re thrilled to launch the Canoku Brain Health Edition – it not only supports cognitive health itself, but it also educates players about other ways they can improve their cognitive health. With dementia rates rising so quickly – according to the Alzheimer Society of Canada, researchers predict that by 2030, almost 1 million people in Canada will be living with dementia – spreading awareness about dementia prevention is critical.”

The National Puzzle Day launch is just the first phase of Canoku’s Brain Health Edition. The game will be introduced to older adults through the CABHI’s Leap Community platform, allowing Leap members to share feedback on the overall gaming experience, which will be relayed to Canuckle Games for consideration and implementation. Leap is a vibrant online community for older adults and caregivers that fosters a dynamic environment where members not only share experiences, but also actively engage in collaborative learning to explore and recommend innovative solutions for aging and brain health – putting end-users at the centre of innovation.

About Baycrest
Baycrest is a global leader in aging and brain health through research, innovation, care, and education, working to defeat dementia and create a world where every older adult enjoys a life of purpose, inspiration and fulfilment. Baycrest is home to a robust research and innovation network, including the Baycrest Academy for Research and Education, which developed the Defy Dementia program, and houses the Rotman Research Institute, one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience and the scientific headquarters of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, Canada’s largest national dementia research initiative; and the Baycrest-powered Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, a solution accelerator focused on driving innovation in the aging and brain health sector. For more information, visit and

About Canuckle
Canuckle is a daily Canadian word game created by Canadian brothers Mark and Jeff Rogers. Originally launched in February 2022, the Wordle-inspired game shares fun facts about Canada and has been played over 185 million times by over 9 million unique users around the world. In October 2023, Canuckle launched Canoku - a Canadian emoji sudoku game that offers a unique twist on the classic Sudoku puzzle - a great addition to their offering of Canadian-themed games.

Media contact: 
Natasha Nacevski-Laird
Media Relations Specialist
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