Paus lab


Welcome to the Dr. Tomas Paus laboratory. We are interested in the structural and functional organization of the human brain and the forces, in our genes and environment, that shape our brain and behaviour. Currently, we are pursuing two overarching themes:

  1. Organizational and activational effects of sex hormones vis-a-vis social cognition and neural connectivity;
  2. Neural underpinnings of mental health during adolescence, with a particular emphasis on addiction and depression.

In this work, we use both population-based and experimental approaches.

Population-based studies allow us to address questions about the role of genes and the environment in shaping the human brain and behaviour. These studies typically use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI; structural and functional) of the human brain, in combination with a detailed assessment of cognition and mental health, in a large number of individuals recruited from the general population. We also collect DNA and detailed questionnaire-based information about individuals’ exposures (e.g. smoking during pregnancy) and experiences (e.g. stressful life events). Over the past five+ years, we have been focusing on the adolescent brain through the following population-based studies: Saguenay Youth Study, ALSPAC, and IMAGEN. At present, we are expanding this work to include a strong trans-generational component. The first of such studies involves a Canada-Finland collaboration investigating the brain & behaviour of middle-aged parents and their offspring, members of the Saguenay Youth Study and the Northern Finland Birth Cohort.

Experimental studies allow us to test some of the specific hypotheses arising from the above population-based studies. We do so in small studies carried out in healthy volunteers or patients with specific disorders and/or in experimental models. In these studies, we use not only MRI but also other tools such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroencephalography (EEG) and a combination of TMS with positron emission tomography (PET) and/or EEG. Work in experimental models (mice, rats) allows us to understand cellular processes underlying findings obtained in vivo in the human studies.

Our work is highly collaborative and spans a number of disciplines, from physics through genetics and epidemiology to psychiatry, psychology and sociology. This is also reflected in the varied background of our trainees.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive technique which uses a rapidly changing magnetic field to induce, through the skull,Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) an electrical current in a localized region of the cerebral cortex. This allows researchers to study the functioning and interconnections of the human brain. A variant of TMS, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), has been tested as a treatment tool for various neurological and psychiatric disorders including migraines, depression and movement disorders.

Lab Members

Post-doctoral Fellows

  • Dr. Melissa Pangelinan
  • Dr. Leon French

Graduate Students

  • Deborah Schwartz
  • Angelita Wong

Research Assistants

  • Anja Klasnja
  • Diana Markova
  • Kevin Lee

The Hospital for Sick Children

  • Dr. Zdenka Pausova
  • Manon Bernard
  • Dr. Melkaye Melka

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

  • Dr. Greg Stanisz

University of Quebec a Chicoutimi

  • Dr. Louis Richer
  • CEGEP de Jonquiere
  • Dr. Michel Perron
  • Nadine Arbour
  • Marie-Eve Bouchard
  • Annie Gauthier
  • Pierre Ouellette
  • Helene Simard
  • Dr. Patrick Vachon

Centre affilie universitaire regional de Chicoutimi (CSSS de Chicoutimi)

  • Dr. Daniel Gaudet

McGill University

  • Dr. Michal Abrahamowicz
  • Dr. Suzanne King
  • Dr. Gabriel Leonard
  • Dr. Bruce Pike
  • Dr. Robert Zatorre
  • University of Montreal
  • Dr. Patricia Conrod
  • Dr. Jean Seguin

MIND Research Network

  • Dr. Vince Calhoun
  • Dr. Angela Bryan
  • Dr. Sarah Feldstein
  • Dr. Renee Magnan
  • Dr. Judith Segall

Pennsylvania State University

  • Dr. Elizabeth Susman

University of California Los Angeles

  • Dr. Shahrdad Lotfipour

Cardiff University

  • Dr. John Evans
  • Dr. Derek Jones

Oxford University

  • Dr. Kate Watkins

University of Bristol

  • Dr. George Davey Smith
  • Dr. Beate Glaser
  • Dr. Carol Joinson
  • Dr. Glyn Lewis
  • Dr. Margaret May
  • Larisa Duffy
  • Emma Evans
  • Sarah Thompson

University of Glasgow

  • Dr. Marie-Helene Grosbras

University of Nottingham

  • Dr. Eamonn Ferguson
  • Dr. Penny Gowland
  • Dr. Nadja Heym
  • Dr. Claire Lawrence

University of Oulu

  • Dr. Juha Veijola
  • Dr. Hanna Ebeling
  • Dr. Marjo-Riitta Jarvelin
  • Dr. Vesa Kiviniemi
  • Dr. Pirjo Maki
  • Dr. Jouko Miettunen
  • Dr. Irma Moilanen
  • Dr. Anja Taanila

University of Turku

  • Dr. Solja Niemela

University of Amsterdam

  • Dr. Denny Borsboom
  • Sacha Epskamp
  • Claudia van Borkulo