Contact information:

The Brain and Mind Institute

Western Interdisciplinary Research Building

The University of Western Ontario

London, Ontario N6A 5B7 CANADA

ph: 519-661-2111, ext. 84447

fax: 519-661-3613

e-mail: ijohnsru at

Ingrid Johnsrude, PhD.

Western Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience Full Professor

Department of Psychology

School of Communication Sciences and Disorders


Google Scholar Page

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.



Björn Herrmann, PhD.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Room: WIRB 4115

The range of sounds we experience varies greatly when we transition from, for example, a quiet mid-afternoon hike on an abandoned mountain to a loud rock concert in a group of thousands of fans. One scientific question of substantial importance to understanding human experience is how exactly our brains are capable of adjusting to contexts in which the sound experience varies so greatly. It is hard to imagine how our brains could cope with such extreme differences between soundscapes without substantial flexibility in the way they respond. My research makes use of electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography, and functional imaging in order to investigate the flexibility with which neural activity and human perception adjusts to the acoustic properties of the environment, and whether flexibility in neural and perceptual adjustments change when growing older. I strongly focus on auditory sensory processes and investigate stimulus-evoked activity as well as neural oscillations as prime candidates for expressing flexible adjustments to, for example, spectral and temporal properties of the environment. See Björn's page...

Vanessa Irsik, PhD.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Room: WIRB 4115

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.

Stephen Van Hedger, PhD.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Room: WIRB 4115

My research focuses on fundamental questions in the domain of learning and memory on the one hand, and in the domain of pattern understanding on the other. The way in which I integrate these two areas of research is through the study of perceptual expertise – specifically, how it develops and is how it is maintained by the environment. Much of my research has focused on music and speech as a model systems, in part because there is such variability in these domains. In music, using a combination of behavioral and fMRI paradigms, my current focus is on how individual and environmental factors contribute to the learning and memory of absolute pitch categories. In speech, using a combination of behavioral, fMRI, and EEG paradigms, my current focus is on the development of talker-specific representations, with a particular emphasis on how perceptual expertise with a given talker can improve speech understanding in challenging listening environments.

Aysha Motala, PhD.

Postdoctoral Fellow, Room: WIRB 4115

The ability to process and perceive time is fundamental for existence. In emphasising its importance for survival, it is known that almost all plants and animals – even unicellulars, have been documented to express biological rhythms. Hitherto, my research has focused on using psychophysics and behavioural experiments to investigate sensory time perception and specifically, whether this is a centralised or distributed feature. A broader overview of my research focuses on questions such as, how do human brains process time? What about the contribution of timing information coming in from different senses (for example, vision and audition), and how we maintain a unified percept of the world? More recently, I am using neuroimaging methods (fMRI and EEG) and the use of narratives to explore how listeners overcome the challenges presented by degraded speech in real-world scenarios. Moreover, I am also interested in how these abilities change throughout our lifespan.


Dora Ladowski, MSc.

Clinical PhD. Student, Room: WIRB 4115

I am a Clinical PhD. student supervised by Dr. Johnsrude. I've previously studied how individuals experiencing psychosis process ambiguous and degraded speech. My current research focus is on the neural correlates of speech perception and other cognitive processes in medically refractory epilepsy. I hold a BScH in Psychology from McGill University and a MSc in Clinical Psychology from Queen's University.

Ysabel Domingo, MSc.

PhD. Student, Room: WIRB 4115

I obtained my Bachelors degree from University of Toronto Mississauga, majoring in Biology and Psychology. I then moved to UWO to do my Masters in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. I joined the lab in 2014, and study the effects of familiar voices on speech perception.

See Ysi's page...

Nargess Ghazaleh, M.D.

MSc. Student, Room: WIRB 4115

I am a Neuroscience Master student, supervised by Dr. Johnsrude. My main interest is the clinical aspects of Neuroscience, and I am working on functional brain reorganization in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. I hold a M.D. degree in General Medicine from Hamadan University of Medical Sciences, Iran.

Mason Kadem

MSc. Student, Room: WIRB 4115

My undergraduate thesis was the first attempt at acquiring pupil measures through an online interface (Mturk). Currently, I am a MSc Neuroscience student under the supervision of Dr. Johnsrude. I use functional magnetic resonance imaging and pupillometry to assess cognitive load in challenging listening environments. In addition, I am interested in assessing the auditory system during spaceflight, which would indicate whether the auditory system functions normally under microgravity. This knowledge could be used to improve the safety and efficacy of space habitats

Sonia Varma, MSc

PhD Student, Room: WIRB 4115

I obtained a Bachelor’s of Science with a specialization in Psychology from the University of Ottawa. I am currently in the Neuroscience PhD program at the University of Western Ontario. I am supervised by Dr. Ingrid Johnsrude. My research is presently focused on the efferent connections in the auditory cortex.

Chad Buckland, BSc

MSc. Student, Room: WIRB 4115

I graduated with an honors specialization in psychology and a major in history from King's University College at Western University. My undergraduate thesis focused on examining the underlying complexity of free market beliefs. During my time at the Cognitive Science & Numeracy Lab, I worked on examining early numeracy interventions and took part in a longitudinal study of children's math abilities. My current research focuses on the underlying neural networks involved in vocalization processing.

Mark O'Reilly, BEng

MESc. Student, Room: WIRB 4115

I completed my BEng in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Guelph with a focus in signal processing. I am currently working towards a MESc in Biomedical Engineering at Western, co-supervised by Dr. Johnsrude at the Brain and Mind Institute and Dr. Ali Khan at the Robarts Research Institute. My current research focuses on characterizing differences between neural activation at rest and activation while watching movies.


George Gainham

I am currently in my third year of completing an Undergraduate Honours Specialization Degree in Neuroscience (BSc) here at Western. In the summer of 2017, Dr. Johnsrude supervised my research project, which was funded by NSERC in light of my attaining an Undergraduate Student Research Award (USRA). I continue to work on said project, relating novel stimuli to regions of interest in the brain during an audio-video clip, as well as servicing other lab members with various fMRI pre-processing issues.


Vivian Huynh

Grace To

Young Choi


Sharif Natheir

Veselina Stephanova

Zaineb Chouhdry


Emma Holmes, PhD.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Alex Billig, PhD.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Alenka Bullen, BScH.

MSc Student

Andrew Dykstra, PhD.

Ana-Bianca Popa, MSc.