In broad strokes, our lab studies brain plasticity. We 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 four separate but interrelated lines of research:
- We are developing novel therapeutic treatment using TMS to provide a safe and effective non-invasive therapy for visual hallucinations following loss of vision. Visual hallucinations can occur after loss of vision in the absence of mental illness such as dementia. These visual hallucinations can be troublesome for the patient and are often misunderstood, resulting in added psychological consequences in addition to the visual impairment. At present, there is no standard treatment protocol to treat visual hallucinations that occur following loss of vision.
We are one of the few labs in the world to study multisensory (visual and auditory) processing in unique ophthalmological patients who have had one eye surgically removed (enucleated) early in life, thereby disrupting binocular input to the visual system. We are examining low-level form vision and motion processing as well as higher-level face, object and scene processing. We also measure multisensory adaptation through behaviour and neuroimaging. This approach can reveal coding mechanisms in the brain that inform us about how intact sensory systems function.
We are examining sex and sexual orientation differences in perceptual and spatial cognitive processing. We are currently measuring similarities and differences in behaviour as well as brain structure and function.
- We study rare neurological patients with acquired brain damage resulting in visual object agnosia (the inability to visually recognize objects) or prosopagnosia (the inability to visually recognize a face). Using image-guided TMS, we are able to create temporary lesions in neurologically-intact participants to better understand object and face processing by transiently disrupting processing in various cortical regions of the face, object and scene processing networks.