Dr. Daniel Ansari
Dr. Ansari’s research focuses on gaining a better understanding of how children develop numerical and mathematical competencies, why some children fail to acquire basic calculation skills (Developmental Dyscalculia) as well as what brain circuits are associated with the processing of number and our ability to calculate. One of the central aims of his research is to better understand how basic numerical competencies, those that humans share with other species, become transformed through the processes of development and enculturation. His team use non-invasive neuroimaging technologies such as fMRI, DTI and ERPs as well as traditional behavioral methods to explore these questions.
Dr. Tim Bussey, Director of the Rodent Cognition Core
Dr. Bussey is an expert in the area of behavioural and cognitive neuroscience, specialising in the evaluation of rodent models of dysfunction and disease. Co-inventor of the touchscreen testing method for rodents, which allows computer-automated cognitive testing of rodent models on the same types of tests currently used to diagnose and study human patients. This device went to market in 2009, and is now being used in over 200 institutions including about 20 pharmaceutical companies. His research includes “cognition - how the healthy brain does it, what goes wrong in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disease, and identifying targets for therapy” and “improving preclinical-to-clinical translation.”
Dr. Jody Culham
Dr. Culham’s research focuses on how vision is used for perception and to guide actions in human observers using several techniques from cognitive neuroscience to understand human vision. The Culham lab has developed unique techniques for bringing the "real world" into the constrained environment of the fMRI scanner. Dr. Culham is particularly interested in tasks such as grasping, reaching, tool use and 3D object recogntion.
Dr. Jörn Diedrichsen, Director of the Computational Core
Dr. Diedrichsen’s team uses robotic devices to investigate human motor behavior. By simulating novel objects or dynamic environments they can study how the brain recalibrates well-learned motor skills or acquires new ones. Jörn develops computational models to understand the underlying control and learning processes. These insights are used to design fMRI studies to investigate how these processes map onto the brain. In the process, they have developed a number of novel techniques focused on how to study motor control in the MRI environment, and how to analyze MRI data of the human cerebellum. Finally, they study patients with stroke or neurological disease to further determine how the brain manages to control the body. After all – that is what the brain “does”.
Dr. Stefan Everling, Co-Chair of the HQP Committee and Director of the NHP Core
Dr. Everling's research aims to understand how frontal brain areas influence cognitive functions in the primate brain. By better understanding which areas underlie which cognitive functions, he works towards identifying the brain areas that can serve as targets for future treatment of prefrontal strokes and trauma.
Dr. Ingrid Johnsrude
In the Cognitive Neuroscience of Communication and Hearing (CoNCH) lab, psychophysical and neuroimaging methods such as fMRI and EEG are used to study the neural basis of hearing; particularly how the brains of listeners transform the noisy and variable sounds of everyday conversations into meaningful language. The ultimate goal of this work is to make speech listening easier for people with hearing impairment. The group is also exploring novel functional-imaging based methods for evaluation of subtle brain abnormalities in epilepsy, concussion and other brain disorders.
Dr. Mel Goodale, Director of the Human Cognition & Sensorimotor Core and Executive Committee Member
Dr. Goodale’s research is aimed at understanding the functional organization of visual pathways in the human brain. To do this, he studies visual discrimination and the visual control of skilled movements in neurological patients with damage to different visual areas in the brain. He also uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at activity in the healthy human brain as it performs different kinds of visual tasks. This work has led to the idea that there are separate but interacting visual systems for the perception of objects on the one hand and the control of actions directed at those objects on the other – with each system engaging quite different pathways in the human brain. Nevertheless, there is a complex but seamless interaction between the two visual pathways in the production of everyday behavior.HUMAN COGNITION & SENSORIMOTOR CORE
Dr. Stefan Köhler, Co-Chair of the Funding Program
Dr Köhler’s research interests relate to the organization of episodic memory in the human brain. As part of the discipline of cognitive neuroscience, his work addresses the relationship between the cognitive and neural processes that allow humans to remember their past. It builds upon diverse methodological approaches, such as the investigation of memory impairments in neurological patients, cognitive experiments in healthy individuals, the examination of brain activity with functional neuroimaging techniques (fMRI), and brain stimulation with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Some of the specific questions addressed concern how memory systems interact with the visual system when we recognize something we saw earlier, whether different parts of the brain support memory for different types of information, and how memory processes contribute to the detection of novelty in the environment.
Dr. Ravi Menon, Co-Scientific Director, Director of the Imaging Core and Executive Committee Member
Dr. Menon has paved the way for key developments in the field of brain imaging research – from working on the team that discovered functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to developing and championing the use of ultra-high field MRI techniques for use in patient care. Dr. Menon is a professor at Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, and director of the Centre for Functional and Metabolic Mapping at Western’s Robarts Research Institute and Canada Research Chair in Functional and Molecular Imaging.
Dr. Adrian Owen, Executive Committee Member
Dr. Owen is currently the Canada Excellence Research Chair (CERC) in Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging at Western University. His work combines structural and functional neuroimaging with neuropsychological studies of brain-injured patients. His ground-breaking, internationally-recognized work has shown that functional neuroimaging can reveal conscious awareness in some patients who appear to be entirely vegetative, and can even allow some of these individuals to communicate their thoughts and wishes to the outside world.
Dr. Terry Peters, Director, Virtual Augmentation and Simulation for Surgery and Therapy (VASST) Laboratory in the Imaging Core
Dr. Peters' laboratory is concerned with the development and validation of tools that allow surgeons to make efficient use of images, produced by sophisticated 3-D imaging systems, during surgical procedures. The objective of minimally-invasive neurosurgery is to resect or lesion the smallest volume of brain tissue, causing the least trauma to the patient while achieving the desired therapeutic result.
Dr. Marco Prado, Co-Chair of the Funding Program
Dr. Prado’s research is focused on the communication between cells in the nervous system. He is interested in how neuronal communication can be manipulated to treat or prevent neurological and cardiovascular disorders. His lab uses a combination of molecular, cellular, pharmacological and behavioral approaches, as well as genetically modified mice, to understand how chemical messengers regulate many distinct physiological programs. A focus of his work is the interface of cell signalling in neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and stroke. His lab is also interested in how cholinergic neurotransmission in the peripheral nervous system may be targeted to improve cardiac dysfunction.
Dr. Lisa Saksida, Co-Scientific Director and Executive Committee Member
Dr. Saksida uses computational and animal models to investigate cognition in both healthy and damaged brains, with a major goal being the successful translation of findings to humans and, eventually, to the clinic. A key part of her research program has been the development of novel cognitive testing methods to achieve this goal; e.g., she co-invented a touchscreen-based method of assessing cognition in pre-clinical rodent models with potentially much greater relevance to human disease than standard methods. This invention was commercialized in 2009 and is now in use in over 200 academic and industrial institutions worldwide. Dr Saksida is also exploring how memory impairments in amnesia and Alzheimer’s Disease may be due to susceptibility to perceptual interference, rather than enhanced forgetting.
Dr. Susanne Schmid, Co-Chair of the HQP Committee
Dr. Schmid’s research program explores the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying sensory filtering. Dr. Schmid uses multiple approaches, such as patch-clamp recording in rat brain slices, stereotaxic microinfusions combined with behavioural testing, optogenetics and DREADDS, in order to decipher the cellular and molecular mechanisms of short-term habituation and prepulse inhibition of startle, as well as their disruption in animal models for autism, and the impact of these disruptions on higher cognitive function such as sustained attention. The goal is to find a therapeutic target to improve sensory filtering and cognitive function in children with autism spectrum disorders