Understanding how information is processed and represented in the brain is one of the most challenging questions facing neuroscience research. Scientists in this group employ state-of-the-art techniques to advance our knowledge of the functional organization of the brain.
Neuropsychology, or cognitive neuroscience, investigates the neural mechanisms underlying cognitive processes such as perception, memory, and thought. The MNI has a distinguished tradition in this research area and in 1989 received a major award from the McDonnell-Pew Program in Cognitive Neuroscience. Numerous studies are being carried out in collaboration with the McConnell Brain Imaging Centre and with Neurosurgery.
E-mail: jelena [dot] djordjevic [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Research Area: Olfactory Functions and Clinical Neuropsychology
Dr. Jelena Djordjevic is a clinical neuropsychologist who works with patients suffering from epilepsy and other brain disorders. Her research has evolved in two directions. One direction studies the human sense of smell, with emphasis on topics such as perception of pleasant versus unpleasant odours, modulation of olfactory perception by cognitive processes, and olfactory functions and dysfunctions in different clinical populations. The second direction of Dr. Djordjevic's research lies in the field of clinical neuropsychology. She conducts empirical evaluations of existing neuropsychological tests and their applications, participates in construction and development of new neuropsychological assessment tools, develops and validates a neuropsychological battery for repeated testing, and studies the translation of neuropsychological instruments from one language to another.
Phone: 514-398-2083 (office)
E-mail: lesley [dot] fellows [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Research Area: Cognitive Neuroscience, Functions of the Frontal Lobes
Dr. Lesley Fellows is a neurologist specializing in disorders of cognition, with a particular interest in the functions of the frontal lobes. She focuses on the processes of decision making in humans, using the tools of cognitive neuroscience - how focal brain damage or neurochemical dysfunction affects all aspects of decision making, how options are generated and organized, how they are valued and compared, and how choices are made.
She is also interested in more general questions about the roles of the frontal lobes in the regulation of emotion, the expression of personality traits, and the representation of past and future information. This work has relevance for understanding impaired executive function following frontal lobe injury from aneurysm rupture, stroke, or tumour growth, as well as in degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and some forms of dementia. It also provides insights into how the component processes underlying decision making are carried out in the intact brain.
E-mail: stephen [dot] frey [at] mail [dot] mcgill [dot] ca
Research Area: Neural Mechanisms and Cognitive Processes
Dr. Stephen Frey's research focuses on the neural mechanisms that underlie language and on cognitive processes such as memory. He uses various approaches to explore the functional organization of the brain including neuroimaging (fMRI and PET), electrophysiology, diffusion tensor imaging, direct neuronal stimulation, and neuro-anatomical tract-tracing techniques.
Phone: 514-398-8907 (office)
E-mail: marilyn [dot] jonesgotman [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Lab Web Site: http://apps.mni.mcgill.ca/research/jonesgotman/
Research Area: Epilepsy, Olfaction, Cognitive and Sensory Abilities - Learning Mechanisms
Dr. Marilyn Jones-Gotman seeks to understand how the human brain functions with respect to a variety of cognitive and sensory abilities, with a special interest in how learning mechanisms differ as a function from task requirements and stimulus types such as faces, words, designs or odours.
Her studies are of patients with temporal lobe epilepsy before and after epilepsy surgery and healthy volunteers. Her research also uses PET and fMRI to examine brain function during learning and memory, during perception of different odours and tastes, and comparing responses to pleasant versus unpleasant sensory stimuli.
Phone: 514-398-3134 (office)
E-mail: denise [dot] klein [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Research Area: The Language System of the Brain
Dr. Denise Klein takes a Cognitive Neuroscience approach to understanding language by combining behavioural and functional neuroimaging methods to examine how different aspects of processing in the mother tongue and subsequently learned languages are influenced by age of acquisition, proficiency, and the distinctive characteristics of languages. By studying the organization of the language systems of the brain in adults who have had different and specific alterations of language experience, this approach will reveal neural systems that mediate language, and will throw light on the debate about brain plasticity and the specific effects of language experience on the organization of these systems.
E-mail: gabriel [dot] leonard [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Research Area: Neuropsychology
Dr. Gabriel Leonard is a clinical scientist and he coordinates the MNH neuropsychology outpatient service. Current research projects include examining the long-term consequences of prenatal exposure to maternal cigarette smoking on brain structure, function and mental health in adolescence; longitudinal study of brain maturation and cognitive development in teenagers combining several brain mapping approaches (collaboration with Dr. Tomas Paus); magnetic resonance imaging of multiple sclerosis and associated cognitive profiles (collaboration with Dr. Doug Arnold and Dr. Louis Collins).
Dr. Leonard is active in test development and is establishing normative data for a new computerized device to measure simple and complex hand and arm movements. He is collaborating with Drs Clarke, Pike and Appenzeller to examine the cognitive consequences of systemic Lupus.
E-mail: bmilner [at] bic [dot] mni [dot] mcgill [dot] ca
Research Area: Cognitive Function in the Frontal and Temporal Lobes
Dr. Brenda Milner's research focuses on cognitive function in the frontal and temporal lobes of humans. With the help of Dr. Denise Klein, Dr. Milner is using positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify the brain regions involved in language processing in both unilingual and bilingual volunteer control subjects as well as in patients with brain lesions that are in close proximity to areas critical for language. In another series of PET studies, she has worked with Joelle Crane and Ingrid Johnsrude to delineate further the role of the right hippocampal region in memory for the spatial location of objects.
Phone: 514-398-8375 (office)
E-mail: petrides [at] ego [dot] psych [dot] mcgill [dot] ca
Research Area: Frontal and Parietal Cortex, executive function
Dr. Michael Petrides is examining the function of the frontal and parietal cortex in cognitive activity. He has shown that certain aspects of working memory are disrupted by lesions in the mid-dorsolateral frontal cortex. He has examined test animals with damage in this area of the brain to understand the nature of the ability to monitor self-generated, intentional actions. Dr. Petrides is also studying single cells in this region of the brain to determine the specific neural activity that underlies working memory monitoring.
Phone: 514-398-8906 (office)
E-mail: ptito [at] bic [dot] mni [dot] mcgill [dot] ca
Research Area: Concussion, Cerebral Reorganization – Hemispherectomy Influence on Vision
Dr. Alain Ptito investigates the mechanisms involved in cerebral reorganization and plasticity in specific patient populations---hemispherectomy, callosotomy, Parkinson’s Disease, stroke and head injury. His clinical work includes the neuropsychological assessment of these patients. A principal research focus has been the effect on a patient’s vision following a hemispherectomy, the surgical removal or disconnection of a cerebral hemisphere.
In recent years, Dr. Ptito has explored new methods of using fMRI and MRI (Diffusion Tensor Imaging, voxel-based morphometry) for examining brain trauma, particularly among athletes. He has carried out baseline fMRI and neuropsychological testing of varsity hockey and football athletes and repeated the tests immediately after concussion and later until symptom resolution. His results show that fMRI is sensitive enough to detect abnormal activation patterns in individuals who have suffered a concussion.
Phone: 514-398-8904 (office)
E-mail: viv [at] ego [dot] psych [dot] mcgill [dot] ca
Research Area: Neural Mechanisms – The Hippocampal System
Dr. Viviane Sziklas uses animal models to study the neural mechanisms underlying various forms of spatial learning and memory. The extended hippocampal system is important for learning that different stimuli, places, and events in the environment are associated with each other. Dr. Sziklas’ work focuses on mapping precisely the neural regions underlying these processes. Such investigation is critical to a better understanding and classification of memory disorders among patients with lesions in these brain areas. Her laboratory also studies memory and other cognitive functions among patients who undergo focal cortical excision for epilepsy.
Phone: 514-398-8903 (office)
E-mail: robert [dot] zatorre [at] mcgill [dot] ca
Lab Web Site: http://www.zlab.mcgill.ca/
Research Area: Speech and Music in the Brain
Dr. Robert Zatorre is interested in the neuronal basis of auditory events, specifically speech and music. He studies brain-damaged patients as well as normal subjects using contemporary brain-imaging techniques, including PET and MRI. One of his projects investigates the ability to "hear" music in the mind, the goal being to determine whether the same part of the brain is used to perceive sounds originating internally and externally.
Dr. Zatorre also collaborates with Dr. Marilyn Jones-Gotman in studying how the chemical senses---taste and smell---work together to produce a psychological event known as "flavour." In collaboration with Dr. Laura Petitto, he is studying the cognitive processing of sign language among the deaf, the goal being to reveal how the nervous system adapts to the lack of input in one modality to permit the processing of visual signs instead of speech.