Keywords: Hippocampus, Schizophrenia, Memory, Spatial Cognition, fMRI, Sleep-Paralysis Hallucinations
My research interests focus on functions mediated by the medial temporal lobe, including primarily memory and spatial cognition. I am particularly interested in the applications of this study area and approach to understanding functional consequences of medial-temporal abnormalities in clinical conditions such as schizophrenia. Through studies with clinical samples, my lab also hopes to inform and test theories of normal cognition. In this vein, I have moved from being primarily a behavioural neuroscientist using rodent models of cognition (Graduate studies, U Waterloo) to that of a cognitive neuroscientist studying human conditions via neuropsychological, cognitive-science, and neuroimaging methods (Post-doctoral studies, Center for Addiction & Mental Health/ U Toronto). Our lab has also been exploring the effects of recreational drug use on cognition, intelligence assessment, and the spatial and temporal nature of multimodal hallucinations accompanying sleep paralysis. The combination of these perspectives has made valuable contributions to my current research approach at Ryerson University. Some current research questions in our lab include:
- Are functional abnormalities in the medial-temporal lobe associated with Schizophrenia and PTSD regionally specific?
- How are forms of memory and mnemonic processes differentially aberrant across the schizophrenia spectrum and among users of recreational drugs like ketamine and cannabis?
- How do emotional and self-referential thought processes contribute to memory of one’s past, future thoughts, and symptoms of psychopathology (psychosis, depression)?
I teach undergraduate and graduate courses in Psychopharmacology and Clinical Psychopharmacology, respectively, Brain and Behaviour, Research Methods in Psychology, and The Psychology of Thinking. Through these courses I aim to enhance students’ appreciation of the brain and cognition, the role that neurochemicals play in normal daily life, as well as in addiction and mental illness, from the neural level to thought and behaviour, as well as statistical and research methods in psychology.
Girard, T.A., Christensen, B.K., & Rizvi, S. (2010). Visual-spatial episodic memory in Schizophrenia: A multiple systems framework. Neuropsychology, 24 (3), 368-378.
Girard, T.A., Axelrod, B.N., & Wilkins, L. (2010). Comparison of WAIS-III short-forms for measuring index and full-scale scores. Assessment, 17, 400-405.
Girard, T.A., Martius, D.L.M.A., & Cheyne, J.A. (2007). Mental representation of space: Insights from an oblique distribution of hallucinations. Neuropsychology, 45, 1257-1269.
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