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Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty of Science
November 23, 2014
 
 
Canadian Excellence

Background



In the 1960’s Cognitive Psychology emerged as one of the most dynamic and fruitful areas of research in the behavioural sciences. Important models of memory, language, and perception, to name but a few, were developed over the next 30 years. Although this work provided many important insights about the behavioural and computational processes underlying perception and cognition no account was made about how these processes were actually instantiated in the brain. To gain a complete understanding of how “people think” one needs to understand the brain processes that are ultimately responsible for the various processes identified by Cognitive Psychology over the past four decades. Up until the 1990’s adequate functional neuroimaging tools to answer such questions were not available. This all changed in the 1990’s with the advent of a series of remarkable techniques that make it possible to observe brain events. Brain imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), high density evoked potentials (EP), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) have literally transformed the field of Cognitive Psychology. Indeed, in the 1990’s a hybrid field emerged – Cognitive Neuroscience. This field brought together Cognitive Psychologists interested in how the brain brought about the various phenomena they studied, and neuroscientists who had interests in Cognitive Psychology. At present, Cognitive Neuroscience is one of the most exciting fields in the life sciences. Models of cognitive processes can now be constrained and informed by the neural events that give birth to them. In turn, brain imaging studies are guided by the discoveries and hypotheses generated by cognitive approaches.

Laurier is very fortunate to have a group of superb researchers whose research interests and techniques lie at the heart of Cognitive Neuroscience. Currently six researchers form the core of the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience: Todd Ferretti, Bill Hockley, Jeffery Jones, Sukhvinder Obhi, Elizabeth Olds, and Philip Servos. All researchers are NSERC funded. 

The research interests of this group of investigators spans a broad range of cognitive neuroscience topics: visual and auditory perception, motor control, attention, memory, and language. Although each scientist brings a unique research strength to the Centre, there are many complementary research themes that will facilitate collaboration. To this end, PhD graduate students will have the opportunity to conduct research projects in two labs in addition to conducting their thesis research in their advisor’s laboratory.