Anderson lab

 

Dr. Nicole Anderson

The focus in our lab is on protective factors against cognitive decline and dementia among seniors. We approach this from a number of angles, ranging from basic science approaches to “retrain” the brain to very applied examinations of how everyday life activities help maintain functioning. In addition to the work being done by my trainees (see Trainees tab), I am currently analyzing data from two studies: one study looking at the effects of memory recollection training on memory performance and brain activity, and the other study (BRAVO) examining how volunteering helps to maintain the physical, cognitive, and psychosocial health of seniors. Along with colleagues, Dr. Carol Greenwood and Dr. Bradley MacIntosh, we are also examining the effects of hypertension and Type 2 diabetes on cognitive and brain health. For a list of publications from my lab, click here.

 

CURRENT TRAINEES

Andrée-Ann Cyr

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My doctoral research examines whether making errors during episodic learning helps or harms memory among healthy younger and older adults. Current studies use behavioural learning paradigms to contrast memory performance following trial-and-error or errorless learning, as well as uncover the neural mechanisms that underpin error resolution. Broadly, my findings suggest that the memorial effects of errors are a function of the type of processing engendered by the learning context (lexical or conceptual), for both younger and older adults. 

Visit Andrée-Ann’s website: https://sites.google.com/site/andreeanncyr/


 Amanda Lash 

 

Nicole_LashMy primary research interests are in perception, memory, and cognitive aging. I have examined age-related cognitive and perceptual changes, along with the compensatory processes older adults use to account for declines in these systems. My recent research looks at the connection between brain changes and cognitive changes in older adults as it relates to successes and impairments in memory performance. I use neuroimaging to elucidate the neural effects of control processes on memory across young and older adults. The goal of my research is to narrow the gap in our understanding of cognitive aging, with the concurrent aims of theory enhancement and supplying a knowledge base for future development of strategies to benefit memory in adult aging.


Patricia Marshall 

Patricia_Marshall

I completed my BA (Hons) in Psychology at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. My undergraduate research focused on the effects of state and trait anxiety on the creation of false memories. I am currently an MA student working under Dr. Nicole Anderson and Dr. Morgan Barense. My research focuses on cognitive aging. In particular, I will be examining  episodic memory performance for several different stimulus modalities as a function of age. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, camping, and time with friends and family.

 

 


Liesel-Ann Meusel

Liesel_AnnBroadly, my research interests centre on understanding how cognitive networks in the brain are affected by normal aging and by disease states, including psychiatric disorders and chronic, age-related conditions. My current research uses different imaging methods (e.g., structural MRI, BOLD MRI, dual BOLD/ASL MRI) under various task conditions (e.g., working memory, associative memory, resting-state) to study cognitive processes in older adults with and without type 2 diabetes and hypertension. My Ph.D. research used BOLD MRI to explore the neural basis of cognitive change following a restitution-based cognitive remediation intervention in adult outpatients with long-standing psychiatric disorders. Ultimately, my research program will focus on understanding how normal aging and pathological conditions induce change in the intra- and inter-network interactions involved in cognitive processing, with the goal of identifying potential targets for the prevention of cognitive decline, or remediation of cognitive dysfunction. 

Visit Liesel’s website:  http://research.baycrest.org/liesel-annmeusel


Brandon Vasquez

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My general research interests lie within the realms of neuropsychology and cognitive rehabilitation in the context of aging and vascular cognitive impairment. My current research focus comprises two main areas of cognitive neuroscience and their intersection. The first is response time intraindividual variability (RT IIV), which refers to fluctuations in responding across trials within a given task, and is thought to reflect the integrity of cognitive control processes that mediate sustained attention. The second focus is cognitive training to ameliorate attentional dysfunction. My research is examining the malleability of RT IIV, and whether RT IIV can be used as a target for training to improve attention. Additionally, I am examining the relationships that may exist between RT IIV and clinical neuropsychological measures of cognition.

Visit Brandon’s website:  http://www.mendeley.com/profiles/brandon-vasquez/

PAST TRAINEES

Dr. Emma Guild

My research approach aims to characterize memory systems in young adults, in healthy older adults, and in individuals with memory dysfunction, so that one can better predict memory changes over time and uncover ways to optimize memory functioning. My approach for addressing these aims involves a combination of basic science to delineate the behaviours supported by different memory processes and identify their corresponding neural correlates, and clinical neuropsychology to examine changes in memory systems in individuals with memory dysfunction. More specifically, my research interests include: 1) Developing new methods for characterizing memory processes and identifying the brain networks that support memory performance (How do we measure rapid, unconscious forms of detail-rich recollection? Do measures of brain interactions during memory tasks predict post-operative change following surgery for mesial temporal lobe epilepsy?); 2) Creating strategies for improving memory (How can the errorless learning benefit for older adults be enhanced? Does implicit memory provide other routes for bolstering explicit memory in older adults?)

Dr. Alexandra Fiocco

Dr. Susanne Cook

Dr. Eilon Caspi

Dr. Katherine Krpan

Dr. Regina Jokel

Dr. Patricia Ebert

Dr. Tobi Lubinsky

PARTICIPATE IN OUR STUDIES

Current Studies in the Lab

1. Attention Variability

This study is examining cognitive functioning and response time variability through aging and cognitive impairment. Participation in this study involves one 3 hour session at Baycrest, and would entail completing some paper and pencil based tasks assessing thinking abilities (e.g. memory, language, attention) and a few computer tasks.

We are recruiting the following populations:

  • Healthy young adults aged 18 to 30
  • Healthy older adults aged 65 to 85
  • Individuals with vascular cognitive impairment, but without dementia (VCIND), due to cerebral small vessel disease.

Participants must meet the following criteria:

  • Have no history of a head injury with loss of consciousness
  • Have no medical condition that is known to affect cognition (e.g. Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, stroke)
  • Not currently be taking medication that is known to affect cognition (e.g. medication for depression or anxiety).
  • No past history of radiation to the head or neck

To find out more, please contact Brandon Vasquez at 416-785-2500 x3455

2. Word Pair Learning

 We are currently recruiting healthy younger and older participants for a study examining word-pair learning. The study takes 1.5 hours to complete in 1 session at Baycrest Hospital, and consists of learning words shown on a computer screen and completing paper-and-pencil questionnaires. 

You may be eligible if you are:

  • between 18-30 or over 65 years of age
  • a native English speaker (learned before age 5)
  • free of psychiatric, neurological and medical conditions that may impact cognition. 

To learn more, please contact Mariam Iskander at (416) 785-2500 x3435.

3. Effects of Hypertension and Diabetes on Cognition and the Brain

 We are currently recruiting four groups of older participants for a study examining the effects of hypertension, impaired fasting glucose (“pre-diabetes”), and Type 2 diabetes mellitus on cognition and the brain. The study involves three sessions, each lasting about 2 hours. One session involves an assessment of your thinking abilities, with the option of getting feedback from myself, a clinical neuropsychologist, and another session takes place in a magnetic resonance imaging scanner. 

You may be eligible if you:

  • are 65-85 years of age
  • are a native English speaker (learned before age 5)
  • are free of psychiatric, neurological and medical conditions that may impact cognition
  • have hypertension, impaired fasting glucose, or Type 2 diabetes, or none of those conditions

To learn more, please contact Noah Koblinsky at (416) 785-2500 x3633. 

 

LIVING WITH MILD COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT

Living with MCI book cover A key research and clinical interest of mine is in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) – the transitional state between normal aging and dementia. In 2012, my colleagues, Dr. Kelly Murphy and Dr. Angela Troyer, and I published the first comprehensive book written for people living with MCI, their loved ones, and the health care professionals who care for them. For more information about our book, Living with mild cognitive impairment: A guide to maximizing brain health and reducing risk of dementia, click here.