Dr. Ingrid Johnsrude
Dr. Johnsrude received her BSc in Psychology from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. She then trained at the Montreal Neurological Institute and McGill University with pioneering neuropsychologist Brenda Milner, receiving her PhD in clinical psychology in 1997. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging in London UK, the home of Statistical Parametric Mapping (SPM), she was recruited to the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, Cambridge, UK to help start a neuroimaging program there. In Cambridge, she worked with, and learned from, many wonderful auditory and cognitive scientists. After four years there, she returned to her alma mater, Queen's University, where she held a prestigious Canada Research Chair for 10 years. She was recruited to Western University in 2014, as the first Western Research Chair. Dr Johnsrude’s work has been recognized by awards and honours including NSERC’s EWR Steacie Award, and she is particularly proud of her IgNobel Prize, with Eleanor Maguire and others, for ‘the London taxi-driver study’. Dr Johnsrude has published over 100 papers and articles, which together have been cited over 22,000 times. Postdoctoral and graduate trainees have gone onto professional careers in audiology and clinical psychology, to industrial research careers at international and Canadian companies, and to academic positions in Canada, the US, the UK and Europe. More than half of Dr Johnsrude’s undergraduate trainees have gone on to professional training (audiology, business, law, medicine, speech pathology) or to graduate school.
Dr. Vanessa Irsik
Sounds are ubiquitous in most natural settings and are a fundamental part of basic perceptual experience. Yet, sound perception in real-world situations can be particularly challenging due to inherent processing constraints of the auditory system and the overall complexity of most listening environments. Thus far, my research has focused on using a combination of behavioral and physiological measures (i.e., EEG) to better understand how we perceptually organize complex auditory scenes, and the limitations of our scene analysis processes via investigating the phenomenon of change deafness. Currently, I am interested in identifying the neural substrates of the auditory processing deficits that occur as we age. In particular, I am interested in examining how processing in cortical and subcortical structures contribute to the temporal processing deficits observed in older adults.
Dr. Aysha Motala
My current work focuses on using a combination of fMRI and EEG to study auditory, and specifically speech processing in humans. My doctoral studies were completed at Cardiff University and explored sensory time perception in humans, and the extent to which these adhere to distributed mechanisms of processing. My undergraduate studies were completed at the University of Nottingham (UK).
Current Ph.D. Students
I completed my Bachelors degree from Queens University, majoring in Political Studies, before moving to Ireland where I completed a Higher Diploma in Psychology. In University College Dublin's Media and Entertainment Lab under the supervision of Dr. Brendan Rooney, I studied the effects of perceptual and conceptual cues on feelings of presence in a virtual environment and the applications of virtual reality as a neuropsychological assessment tool. After working as an Assistant Psychologist at Highfield Healthcare, I moved to UWO to work with Dr. Johnsrude as a student in the Clinical Science and Psychopathology program. My current research examines functional brain restructuring in individuals with temporal lobe epilepsy and explores how these changes are related to cognitive functioning.
In 2018, I completed my Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology with a minor in Physics from the University of Calgary. After that, I obtained a Master of Science in Psychology, also from the University of Calgary. My undergraduate thesis focused on hippocampal volumes and structural integrity in very poor spatial navigators. During my master's degree, I received NSERC funding to investigate how spatial metaphor processing is related to spatial cognition as measured by performance on spatial tasks. I joined CoNCH Lab in the summer of 2020 and officially started the Ph.D. program in cognitive, developmental, and brain sciences (CDBS) at Western University that fall. I was fortunate to receive an NSERC PGS-D to support my Ph.D. research. I plan to investigate individual differences in listening effort associated with audiovisual speech perception using behavioural and neuroimaging methods.
I completed my BSc. in Life Sciences at McMaster University, with an honours specialization in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour (PNB). My research interests include the neural basis of hearing and hearing loss, neuroimaging methods, and neurotechnology. I’m currently working towards a MSc. in the Neuroscience program at Western, supervised by Dr. Johnsrude and Dr. Herrmann. The focus of my research is identifying neural signatures of effortful listening. During my Master’s thesis I developed a method for computing correlations between executive load time courses associated with story listening, as a means of investigating the utility of different stories in assessing listening effort. My Ph.D. work will focus on extending this work and relating it to the neural correlates of listening effort, measured using fMRI and EEG.
I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science from the University of Ottawa, and my Master’s of Science here at Western. I am currently in the Neuroscience Doctoral program. During my MSc, I used electroencephalography (EEG) and a novel stimulus paradigm to simultaneously measure electrophysiological responses from subcortical and cortical auditory areas, and evaluate how responses are related across levels. Currently, my research focuses on identifying neural signatures in electrophysiological data that distinguish listeners who achieve high intelligibility while experiencing low effort in noisy listening conditions, from those who experience difficulty listening in noise. I aim to use these signatures to guide an EEG-based neuro-feedback training.
Current Master's Students
I obtained a Bachelor's of Science from the University of Toronto at Scarborough in Neuroscience and Cognitive Psychology, with a focus on visual object recognition processes. I then completed a Master of Arts at the University of Manitoba in the domain of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, focusing on obstacle avoidance during memory-guided reaching and grasping. Currently, I am a Master of Science student in the Clinical Science and Psychopathology program at UWO, with research utilizing a naturalistic fMRI stimulus to explore functional connectivity differences in the brains of people with medically refractory epilepsy compared to healthy controls.
I studied classical voice (B.Mus.) and psychology (B.A.) at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., where I completed music cognition research on the role of audiovisual influences in pitch-space associations. I am interested in the neural correlates of music and memory, especially as they pertain to people experiencing dementia. Under the joint supervision of Drs. Jessica Grahn and Ingrid Johnsrude, I'm excited to learn more about why music is preserved in dementia, even when other fundamental cognitive functions are lost. The end goals of this research are 1) to address some of gaps in the current music neuroscience literature, and 2) to provide information and concrete tools for older adults and their caregivers to maintain and improve quality of life.
I completed a BA in Psychology at Ryerson University, where my honours thesis—supervised by Dr. Frank A. Russo—was the first study to use functional near-infrared spectroscopy to measure listening effort in hearing aid users. After graduating, I spent a year gaining experience in an assortment of other psychology labs, with research topics ranging from decision neuroscience to quantitative methodology. I am currently working toward an MSc in Psychology (Cognitive, Developmental, and Brain Sciences) at Western University, supervised by Dr. Ingrid Johnsrude. Here, I continue to research listening effort, specifically how the recruitment of cognitive resources during listening may give rise to the subjective feeling of listening being effortful.
Current Undergraduate Students
I am a fourth year student completing my Bachelor of Medical Sciences with an Honours Double Major in Pathology and Interdisciplinary Medical Science. I joined the lab in 2020 as a volunteer, working under Hana’s supervision to research patients with epilepsy.
I am currently in third year at Western University, pursuing a bachelor's degree in Specialization in Biology, and currently working under Sonia Yasmin’s supervision on an online study investigating the relationship between various cognitive assessments and speech intelligibility.
I recently graduated from Western with an Undergraduate Honours Specialization Degree in Neuroscience (BSc ’19). I have worked for Dr Johnsrude for the majority of my undergraduate career starting with an NSERC-funded Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA) and have since worked on multiple projects in the lab. Currently, I am investigating the neural correlates of people who have experienced mild traumatic brain injury as compared to controls and over time.
A central goal of neuroscience is to understand the complex neural dynamics of real-world experiences and how they are affected by brain disorders. Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) research has identified highly consistent inter-subject correlations of neural activation when participants watch movies. To expand on this, my research focuses on developing immersive action videogames that will work with fMRI in order to monitor participants’ cognitive functions as they take part in these games. This will provide insight into the neural processing of real-world stimuli and will seek to examine systematic differences in ISCs to uncover potential diagnostic markers between pathological and healthy participants.