Faculty

York University has over 40 neuroscience faculty members, housed in the departments of Psychology, Kinesiology and Health Sciences, Philosophy, Biology, and Computer Science and Engineering. These investigators use diverse approaches to neuroscience, including computational modeling, event-related potentials, brain imaging (fMRI, PET, MEG), animal neurophysiology, psychophysics, kinematics, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and molecular and cellular techniques. Their research occurs mainly at York, but also through extensive local and international collaborations with hospitals, community groups, and other universities.

Faculty Members

Department of Psychology

Scott A. Adler

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Developmental/ Visual Perception
  • Research Interests: Mechanisms of attention, perception, memory
    and eye movements in infancy

Dr. Adler’s research focuses on infants’ visual, attentional and perceptual development from a neuroscience perspective. Specific topics include the relation between various cognitive processes in young infants’ formation of future-oriented expectations for the spatial, temporal, and content information of visual events; the interface between visual expectations and memory processes; development of mechanisms for selective attention and visual search; development of object recognition; and the processes involved in infants’ control and execution of eye movements.

Ellen Bialystok

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Cognition and neuropsychology
  • Research Interests: Language and cognitive development in children

Ellen Bialystok is a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at York University and Associate Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute of the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care. She obtained her Ph.D. in 1976 from the University of Toronto specializing in cognitive and language development in children. Her current research focuses on the effect of bilingualism on language and cognition across the lifespan showing modification in cognitive systems from this experience. Her research uses both behavioral and neuroimaging methods and examines participants who are children, younger or older adults, as well as patients. She has published extensively in the form of books, scientific articles, and book chapters. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and among her awards are the Canadian Society for Brain Behaviour and Cognitive Science Hebb Award (2011), Killam Prize for the Social Sciences (2010), York University President’s Research Award of Merit (2009), Donald T. Stuss Award for Research Excellence at the Baycrest Geriatric Centre (2005), Dean’s Award for Outstanding Research (2002), Killam Research Fellowship (2001), and the Walter Gordon Research Fellowship (1999).

Doug J. Crawford

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual-motor control
  • Research Interests: Eye-hand coordination, 3-D gaze and trans-saccadic integration

Professor Crawford’s lab is currently engaged in three major research projects: Eye-Hand Coordination (cortical mechanisms for visually guided arm movements), 3-D Gaze Control (neural mechanisms that rotate the eyes and head toward visual targets) and Trans-saccadic Integration (piecing together perceptions across different gaze fixations).

To study these topics, we use rigorous computational models, visual psychophysics and 3-D motion analysis, direct neurophysiological recordings of brain activity, high resolution brain imaging (fMRI, MEG), Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), and clinical patient studies. I have found that the multi-disciplinary interplay between these approaches promotes an exciting, collaborative research environment. Moreover, this approach seems to be bringing us closer to our ultimate goal: to understand how the brain works.

Joseph DeSouza

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual-motor control
  • Research Interests: Eye–hand neural pointing mechanisms and relation to attention

Dr. DeSouza’s long-term research goals are to develop a better understanding of the PFC modulation of the oculomotor system through the examination of how eye position, preparatory set signals and visual motion signals are modulated during various tasks (e.g. anti-saccade and delayed-match-to-sample).  To this end, he has adopted a two-pronged research program utilizing both functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and single-unit electrophysiological techniques to address the many questions surrounding the oculomotor system and its relationship to attention.  This dual approach is an effective and complimentary way to elucidate the neural mechanisms of the PFC and its relationship to attention and response inhibition.

James Elder

( Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual Perception
  • Research Interests: Computational Neuroscience, Perceptual Organization, Shape Perception, Ecological Statistics

The laboratory Professor Elder works in conducts research in human and computer vision.  This research involves psychophysical experiments on human subjects, mathematical analysis of problem constraints, and development of computational models and algorithms. Students in the laboratory are typically registered in Computer Science, Psychology or Mathematics Departments.

His goals are to develop better theories of visual processing, as well as practical knowledge and algorithms that may be applied to problems in visual surveillance, remote learning and geomatics applications. We collaborate with a number of companies and government organizations on this applied research.

Ingo Fruend

( Assistant Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual Perception
  • Research Interests: Computational Neuroscience

Dr. Fruend is interested in how the brain processes information. To gain insight into this process, he uses computational methods such as computer simulations and machine learning. These methods are powerful tools for making sense of complex data -- a task that closely resembles what the brain is doing when we see. Ingo therefore takes inspiration from computational methods as possible solutions for the information processing tasks implied in visual perception.

Vinod Goel.

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Cognition and neuropsychology
  • Research Interests: fMRI, lesion studies, thinking, reasoning, problem solving,
    decision making, emotions

Vinod Goel is interested in understanding the cognitive, computational, and neural basis of rational decision-making and emotional processing in humans, and more recently, the interaction between the two. His primary methodologies include brain imaging (fMRI & PET), patient studies, and computational modelling. Goel also takes an active interest in the philosophical/foundational issues that beset cognitive science.

Laurence R. Harris

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual-motor control
  • Research Interests: Neural mechanisms involved in eye and head movements

Professor Harris is interested in the general question of how we see during movement. As well as being an interesting an important question in its own right, this question represents an approachable and answerable version of the broader but unanswerable question “how does the brain work”. The principles clarified by solving the question of how the brain sees during movement are the principles of brain processing in general. It is important to understand how the brain processes information as we move around since we are almost always moving around.

Walter Heinrichs

(Professor)

  • Neauroscience Area: Cognition and neuropsychology
  • Research Interests: Neural mechanisms underlying schizophrenia

Professor Heinrichs developed an interest in schizophrenia and severe mental illness while a student at the Ontario College of Art, where he studied psychiatry and art with Dr. John MacGregor. Following an undergraduate education in psychology at York, he studied neuropsychology and aesthetics at the University of Toronto where he obtained his graduate degrees. In addition, he completed practica and internships in clinical psychology and clinical neuropsychology at Centenary Hospital Mental Health Service, the Neurology Clinic, Worker’s Compensation Board Hospital and the Department of Psychological Services, St. Michael’s Hospital. After four years of full-time hospital practice in clinical neuropsychology he received his appointment at York University in 1988. He continues an active research program in neuropsychological aspects of schizophrenia and teaches and supervises students in his field of expertise.

Kerry Kawakami

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Social Cognition
  • Research Interests: Social cognition of prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination.

Kerry Kawakami is part of The Social Cognition Laboratory at York University, which investigates a variety of social categorization processes using a diversity of methods.  Some of the main issues examined are how people are perceived from different social groups, how we react to intergroup bias, and strategies to reduce prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination.

Raymond Mar

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Social cognition
  • Research Interests: Neural basis of empathy and personality

Raymond Mar is the director of the Mar Lab where a  diverse range of topics that often cluster around the following central questions are researched:  How is one’s experience with narrative fiction (e.g., novels, movies, plays) similar to a cognitive and emotional simulation of social experience? What are the cognitive, social, and emotional outcomes of exposure to narrative fiction, both in the short-term and over one’s lifetime? How does the brain process narrative fiction, and how might this be similar to related processes such as autobiographical memory, self-projection, social cognition/empathy, and imagination?

You can find out more about Mar’s research by reading his papers. A good place to start might be the Mar & Oatley (2008) article entitled The Function of Fiction.

Richard Murray

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual perception
  • Research Interests: Perception of 2-D and 3-D shapes

 

Susan Murtha

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Cognition and neuropsychology
  • Research Interests: Neural mechanisms of attention and memory

Susan Murtha’s lab at York examines a variety of methods for capturing attention or narrowing the focus of attention that ultimately improves performance on short term memory tasks and on visual search tasks in both young, middle aged, and older adults.

Norman Park

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual-motor control
  • Research Interests: Memory and action in cognitive impairment

Jill Rich

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Cognition and neuropsychology
  • Research Interests: Memory in normal and abnormal aging

Josée Rivest

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Cognition and neuropsychology
  • Research Interests: Neural correlates of perceptual systems and disorders

Josée Rivest obtained her Ph.D. in 1992 from Harvard University in the field of visual sciences. She is now an associate professor at York University – Glendon College. She conducts research in the field of visual perception, more specifically she studies how different visual attributes such as colour, luminance, texture and motion are integrated together to provide visual analyses. She also studies the learning of perceptual tasks involving different attributes, the role of attention on visual learning and shape perception. In addition she studies the visual attention to moving objects of professional athletes.

Shayna Rosenbaum

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Cognitive Neuroscience and Clinical Neuropsychology
  • Research Interests: Neural mechanisms of remote spatial and episodic memory

Dr. Rosenbaum is director of the Rosenbaum Memory Lab and holds a York Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory. Her research examines how different types of memory are represented in the brain, how they influence other domains, such as theory of mind (ToM) and decision making, and how to detect and manage memory impairment with compensatory strategies. By combining the patient-lesion method with neuroimaging and innovative cognitive paradigms, Rosenbaum, her students, and collaborators made important discoveries in specifying hippocampal-neocortical interactions in the healthy brain and following neural insult.

Joni Sasaki

(Assistant Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Social and Personality
  • Research Interests: Social psychology, interaction of genes and environment

Joni Sasaki is currently researching individual, situational, and cultural moderators of religion’s effects, cultural influences on cognition, emotion, and well-being; and gene–environment interactions.

Jennifer Steeves

(Assistant Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Cognition and Aging
  • Research Interests: Conceptual processing, and the related processes of memory and perceptual abstraction

In broad strokes, Professor Steeves lab studies brain plasticity. They are asking questions such as, how does the brain adapt to changes in sensory input or to direct brain damage. We use converging techniques such as psychophysics, eye movement measurement, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to examine the brain and behaviour. We have three separate but interrelated lines of research:

Dale Stevens

(Assistant Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Cognition and Aging
  • Research Interests: Conceptual processing, and the related processes of memory and perceptual abstraction

Dale Stevens received his BA in Psychology and M.Sc. in Neuroscience from Carleton University. He then received a Ph.D. in Neuropsychology, with a Specialization in Neuroscience, from the University of Toronto.  He conducted postdoctoral work in cognitive neuroscience at Harvard University (Cambridge, MA) as a Research Associate, then at the National Institute of Mental Health (Bethesda, MD) as a senior Research Fellow. He has been trained in animal neuroscience, human neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and both animal and human neuroimaging. He joined the Department of Psychology at York University in 2013 as an Assistant Professor, where he leads the Cognition and Aging Neuroscience Lab. His program of research broadly investigates the neurocognitive specialization, organization, and interaction of brain systems that underlie human conceptual processing, and the related processes of memory and perceptual abstraction. He uses a combination of behavioral, neuropsychological, and neuroimaging methodologies (e.g., MRI) to elucidate how cognitive abstraction underlies our ability to grasp, retain, and retrieve information in the form of conceptual knowledge. He also investigates how these processes are affected by healthy aging, and by developmental and neurological disorders.

Christine Till

(Associate Professor) 

  • Neuroscience Area: Developmental/Cognition and Neuropsychology
  • Research Interests: Neural correlates of cognitive decline; Neurotoxicology

Christine Till does research in the neuropsychology lab at York. Her lab examines the neural basis of cognitive dysfunction in children and adolescents with neurologic disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.  The immature brain has been thought to possess an enormous capacity to adapt to neurological disease. However, it is not well understood what factors play a role in limiting the clinical expression of brain injury associated with neurologic disease in childhood.  The Till lab uses structural and functional neuroimaging techniques, as well as longitudinal modeling of changes over time, to understand how cognitive and behavioural development may be impacted over the course of disease.

Another focus of the laboratory is the investigation of neurorehabilitation strategies for improving cognitive dysfunction.  This work has been using computerized working memory training to determine whether attention and working memory skills can be improved in individuals with diffuse brain insult due to neurodegenerative disease.

Laurie Wilcox

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual Perception
  • Research Interests: The neural substrate of stereopsis

Laurie Wilcox is keenly interested in stereoscopic vision: how the brain constructs a three dimensional percept from two-dimensional images presented to the human eye.
Stereopsis, on its own, provides a full sense of an object displaced in depth. This means that we can create vibrant, realistic 3D scenes on computer displays and in theatres that can imitate three-dimensional vision. As researchers, we know a lot about 3D graphics, and how to create 3D film, but not as much about how the brain transforms the 2D images to 3D percepts.
The Wilcox lab studies a range of issues associated with stereoscopic vision. Most of this research is fundamental in nature, but we are also involved in a number of applied projects including developmental studies and collaborative research with industry

Frances Wilkinson

(Professor emeritus)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual Perception
  • Research Interests: Psychophysics and fMRI studies of object and face perception and visual changes in migraine and aging

Professor Wilkinson’s specific health related research interest is in migraine headache. Specifically, she studies visual aspects of migraine, and am also interested in the role of stress in migraine, and in parallels between migraine and other chronic episodic disorders. I also have a broader interest in visual health and visual disability, and also an interest in lighting as it affects health.

She also do basic vision research on the neural basis of face and object recognition.  Finally,  I study vision in normal aging with the goal of understanding the complex relationship between peripheral and central changes in the visual pathways as we age.  The practical goal of this work on aging is to inform the design of age-friendly living environments.

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Department of Kinesiology

Dorota A. Crawford

(Assistant Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Developmental/Molecular Biology
  • Research Interests: Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying developmental disorders

Heather Edgell

(Assistant Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Autonomic function and brain blood flow
  • Research Interests: Cerebrovascular and autonomic responses to physiological stimuli

Dr.  Edgell is currently engaged in research investigating and cerebrovascular and cardiorespiratory responses to reflex stimulation in men and women through the menstrual cycle. Reflex stimulation includes (but is not limited to) post-exercise circulatory occlusion to stimulate the metaboreflex, giving varying amounts of CO2 or O2 to breathe to stimulate/inhibit the chemoreflexes, Valsalva to activate the baroreflex, and passive upright tilt to activate a multitude of reflexes. There studies are intended to investigate the mechanisms behind greater orthostatic hypotension known to exist in women.

Mazyar Fallah

(Assistant Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual Perception
  • Research Interests: Neural mechanisms of attention and object processing

The sensory world is a “buzzing, booming” confusion of information. The brain processes different types of information in different areas and reunites the information to produce the impression of a seamless, integrated world. How the brain solves the “binding problem” is poorly understood. VPAL works to solve this problem by using multiple converging techniques. Understanding the neural basis of binding will help us to understand conditions in which binding fails e.g. autism, schizophrenia, Williams Syndrome, etc.

William Gage

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Neuromuscular control/biomechanics
  • Research Interests: Neural control of balance and gait

Wiliam Gage is currently researching the neuromuscular control and biomechanics of postural control and of joint stability, currently with a focus on the knee joint. Understanding mechanisms related to sensory-motor dysfunction and normal aging which might interrupt these levels of control, and the potential impact of changes in neuromuscular control (local factors) on the development and progression of osteoarthritis.

Mazen Hamadeh

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Neuromuscular/Molecular biology
  • Research Interests: Nutrition interventions on functional, disease and molecular outcomes in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; aka Lou Gehrig’s)

Mazen Hamadeh is currently researching the dietary interventions (Long-term and short-term caloric restriction;  coffee, caffeine and chlorogenic acid; vitamin D) on functional disease and molecular outcome measures (oxidative stress, inflammation, apoptosis, cellular redox, mitochondrial bioenergetics and neuron count) in the mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; Lou Gehrig’s), with special emphasis on sex differences. He also loosk at the correlation of diet with the progression of disease in ALS patients and does work on Vitamin D and calcium supplementation in type 2 diabetic subjects on insulin resistance, glucose tolerance, and carbohydrate and protein metabolism.

Denise Henriques

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual-motor control
  • Research Interests: Neural mechanisms of multisensory eye, head, and limb movements

Her team simulates sensorimotor systems on computers to identify issues and to reveal the implications of different theories. Then competing theories are tested using neuroimaging and behavioural experiments: presenting human subjects with multisensory stimuli and recording their responses — eye, head and limb movements — at high resolution in 3D.

Lauren Sergio

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Neural control of skilled movement
  • Research Interests: Neural mechanisms of visually guided reaching in parietal and precentral cortex; Age-, experience-, and sex-related differences in movement control; Effects of brain injury and neurological disease on cognitive-motor integration.

Professor Lauren Sergio’s research involves behavioural and electromyographic studies of multi-joint movement coordination, neural mechanisms underlying visually guided reaching in parietal and precentral cortex; and control of voluntary movement in neurological patient populations.

Department of Biology

Logan Donaldson

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Molecular and structural biology
  • Research Interests: Structure-function studies of synaptic signalling proteins

Dr. Donaldson’s research focuses on understanding the how transcription factors and enzymes modify their conformation and partnerships upon receiving signals. These signals may include the binding of ligands or post-translational modifications such as phosphorylation. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy is routinely used to determine atomic-level structures of the protein complexes studied in the laboratory. As proteins are flexible at wide range of timescales, NMR spectroscopy is also used to monitor the dynamic changes that proteins undergo upon receiving signals. All of the projects are very collaborative and have molecular biological and biochemical components that complement the NMR studies. As structural studies also have a computational component, a willingness to use computers (UNIX-based systems) is a must.

Terry Kubiseski

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Molecular Biology
  • Research Interests: Genetic and molecular mechanisms involved in the development and function of the nervous system

Dr. Kubiseski’s work focuses on the role of the family of RhoGTPases in neuronal development.  RhoGTPases are involved in modulating the actin cytoskeleton and promoting polarity in a number of different cells.  Although existing evidence suggests that GTPases are involved in regulating cytoskeletal dynamics required for cell movements, it is not clear how their activities are spatially and temporally regulated to carry out these functions in vivo.

Michael Sui

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Molecular Biology
  • Research Interests: Bioanalytical and biophysical mass spectrometry; proteomics; neurooncology

The Siu group uses mass spectrometry to perform research in the bioanalytical and biophysical areas. There are three major research thrusts: Fundamentals in Mass Spectrometry, Next-Generation Mass-Spectrometric Hardware Development and Proteomics and Cancer Biomarker Discovery and Quantification

Collin Steel

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Neuroendocrinology
  • Research Interests: Neurobiology and endocrinology of circadian systems in the brain and endocrine glands

The Steel lab offers a diversity of research projects that embrace steroid and peptide hormones, nuclear hormone receptors, circadian clock studies of the brain and endocrine organs, brain neuroarchitecture studies of clock-hormone interactions, photosensitivity of endocrine organs and the regulation of insect development.

Training is available in various techniques including radioimmunoassays, immunohistochermistry, confocal laser microscopy, various in vitro tissue techniques and light:dark cycle manipulations for analysis of circadian rhythms.

Hugh Wilson

(Professor emeritus)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual Perception
  • Research Interests: Psychophysics of form vision and motion perception

Dr. Wilson’s experimental research in these areas is designed to elucidate the sequence of cortical processing stages involved in the analysis of visual form and motion. At present a main focus is to understand the various forms of global, configural orientation pooling occurring in cortical area V4 and contributing to the visual analysis of faces. Both our psychophysics and fMRI in this area employ synthetic faces (see above) that are derived from a data base of measurements on digitized photographs of many subjects. Synthetic faces can be manipulated in a multi-dimensional metric space to generate stimuli to test hypotheses about the transformations involved in form vision.

Georg Zoidl

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Molecular Biology
  • Research Interests: Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, Visual System, Synaptic Plasticity, Learning and Memory, Imaging, Transgenic Animals, Electrophysiology, Functional Genomics, Neurological Disorders

Dr. Zoidl’s work primarily focuses on the function(s) of electrical synapses in health and disease.

Department of Philosophy

Kristin Andrews

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Animal cognition and Folk Psychology
  • Research Interests: Comparative Cognition, Moral Psychology, Social Cognition

Professor Andrew’s research focuses on the nature of social cognition, and examines human social relations and the relationships among, and between, animals of different species. She has published on the pluralistic and normative nature of human folk psychology, the varieties of self understanding, chimpanzee mindreading, animal belief, normativity in nonhuman animals, the methodology of animal cognition research, and on the ethical implications of the cognitive, cultural, social, and emotional lives of other animals. I am the author of the Stanford Encyclopedia entry on animal cognition.

Jacob Beck

(Associate Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Mental representation and consciousness
  • Research Interests: Representational Format; The Perception–Cognition Boundary; How Representation and Consciousness Interrelate

Professor Beck studies the nature of mental representation and consciousness from an empirically informed philosophical perspective. Most of his current research clusters around three sets of questions. (1) What format do mental representations have? Are they analog or digital? Conceptual or nonconceptual? (2) How should we understand the difference between perceptual states (e.g. seeing a body as red or hearing a sound to ones left) and cognitive states (e.g. imagining a red body or believing that justice is fairness)? (3) How do consciousness and representation interrelate. Do changes in consciousness always coincide with changes in representation? If so, can consciousness be explained in terms of representation?

 

Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Rob Allison

(Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual Perception
  • Research Interests: Stereopsis, depth perception and eye movements

Associate professor Rob Allison’s research involves human perceptual responses in virtual environments and basic study of stereoscopic vision. He is also interested in the measurement and analysis of eye movements and the applications of this technology.

James Elder

( Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Visual Perception
  • Research Interests: Computational Neuroscience, Perceptual Organization, Shape Perception, Ecological Statistics

The laboratory Professor Elder works in conducts research in human and computer vision.  This research involves psychophysical experiments on human subjects, mathematical analysis of problem constraints, and development of computational models and algorithms. Students in the laboratory are typically registered in Computer Science, Psychology or Mathematics Departments.

His goals are to develop better theories of visual processing, as well as practical knowledge and algorithms that may be applied to problems in visual surveillance, remote learning and geomatics applications. We collaborate with a number of companies and government organizations on this applied research.

Department of Department of Physics & Astronomy

Christopher Bergevin

(Associate  Professor)

  • Neuroscience Area: Sensory neuroscience
  • Research Interests: auditory biomechanics, sensory neuroscience, multi-sensory integration, speech and hearing, acoustics

Dr Bergevin's primary research interests deals with the auditory system, chiefly in the context of how sound is transduced by the ear into neural impulses going to the brain. Remarkably, somehow in the process of being a very sensitive detector, the (healthy) ear generates and subsequently emits sounds that can be detected non-invasively using a sensitive microphone. These sounds, known as otoacoustic emissions (OAEs), reveal many aspects of the inner workings of the ear and also have many translational applications (e.g., clinical audiology). Our lab combines both experimental (acoustic and neurophysiological) and theoretical/modeling approaches across a broad comparative framework (humans, birds, lizards) so to help us better understand OAEs and thereby the key biophysical processes at work that allow us to hear the world around us.