Laboratories

Cognitive Aging Lab

Director: Dr. Lixia Yang

The projects conducted in the Cognitive Aging Lab aim to investigate the changes in cognitive functions occurring with human aging and the potential learning capacity of older adults. The research methods being used in the lab primarily include behavioural experiments and psychometric assessments. We also occasionally adopt neuroimaging or electrophysiological techniques (fMRI and/or ERP) to examine the underlying brain mechanisms for cognitive functioning. The goal of our research is to better understand age-related changes in cognition (e.g., attention, memory, and learning) and the associated brain functions. Meanwhile, we have been dedicated to develop optimal cognitive and physical training programs that could help elderly people to maximally maintain their cognitive and neural functions.

Memory and Decision Processes Lab

Director: Dr. Julia Spaniol

The Memory and Decision Processes Lab is interested in how emotion and motivation influence memory and decision making, and how these influences may change as people age. We use a variety of methods to study these issues, including computer tasks, paper-and-pencil questionnaires, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The following are examples of research questions that we are currently pursuing: (1) How does the prospect of a gain or loss affect how we think, reason, and remember? (2) What types of goals motivate people of different ages? (3) How do individuals prepare for difficult decisions, and under what circumstances do they choose to take risks? The findings from our studies have important implications for real-world domains such as healthcare and personal finance, in which people of all ages must use cognitive skills to make sound decisions.

Stress and Healthy Aging Research Lab

Director: Dr. Alexandra J. Fiocco

The Stress and Healthy Aging Research Lab aims to discover predictors of cognitive maintenance in late life and to evaluate strategies that prevent cognitive decline. Predictors of interest include biological markers, including stress hormones; psychological markers, including personality; and social markers, including diet and exercise. Methods used to test our participants include behavioural and psychometric assessments, brain imaging, and biospecimen collection (i.e. blood or salivary samples for biomarkers). In terms of prevention, we are interested in evaluating the effects of the Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program on cognitive function and stress-related hormones in older adults. Overall, our goal is to define factors and strategies that contribute to the maintenance of optimal brain health in late life.

Vision Science Lab

Director: Dr. Maureen Reed

The Vision Science Lab examines vision and how it changes with age, including how age-related vision changes affect driving.

Science of Music, Auditory Research, and Technology Lab

Director: Dr. Frank Russo

The SMART lab is an interdisciplinary research team concerned with questions at the intersection of mind, music and technology. Our research is rooted in the rapidly emerging field of music cognition but it also branches out to connect with complementary work in the fields of hearing science, communication disorders, emotion, and assistive/rehabilitative technology.

Human Experimental Auditory and Aesthetic Research Lab

Director: Dr. Ben J. Dyson

The members of the Human Experimental Auditory and Aesthetic Research (HEAR) lab are particularly interested in how sights received by the eyes and sounds received by the ears integrate together in the brain. There are a number of factors that influence this decision including differences in time, differences in space, stimulus differences, as well as individual differences in practice and expertise. Deciding whether auditory and visual information go together is also a task involved in the perception and production of art. The HEAR lab is also interested in whether principles of audio-visual integration extend to aesthetic experience. One technique we are particularly interested in is the recording of electrical brain activity as a safe way of looking at the brain, while it is at work and also rest.