Lars holds a Master’s Degree in Physics from the University of Göttingen, Germany, and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He has more than 15 years of research expertise at the interface between MRI methods development and cognitive neuroscience/computational psychiatry.
Lars aims at expanding what we can measure with functional MRI by increasing its contrast and reducing the noise: For maximizing contrast, Lars utilizes efficient non-Cartesian sampling (spiral trajectories) in combination with advanced, iterative image reconstruction, and has extensive experience in ultra-high field (7T) MRI. To minimize noise in fMRI, his work characterizes contributions from MR system and participant by complementary measurements (magnetic field monitoring, gradient impulse response functions, static B0 field maps, peripheral pulse/breathing recordings). Lars uses these measurements for model-based corrections at the image reconstruction and post-processing stage.
Science is a team effort – as such, Lars is a fervent supporter of open science and sustainability, and maintains several open-source toolboxes on GitHub, e.g., the TAPAS PhysIO Toolbox for physiological noise correction in fMRI and the TAPAS UniQC Toolbox for unified quality control in neuroimaging studies.
The Barense Lab seeks to understand how the brain supports memory, and how memory is affected by brain damage or disease. Current projects investigate the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie memory loss, as well as the neural and behavioural harbingers of Alzheimer’s disease. Recently, we have started using principles from cognitive neuroscience to develop more effective interventions for memory-impaired individuals.
Dr. Barnett completed his B.Sc., M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of Toronto. Before returning to UofT as faculty, Dr. Barnett was a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California, at Davis. Dr. Barnett’s research incorporates elements of systems neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and clinical neuropsychology in creative ways to expand our understanding of episodic memory. His research explores how neocortical networks in the brain interact with the hippocampus to support the formation, retrieval, and transformation of episodic memories. He is interested in applying this knowledge to examine how alterations in network communication impact memory in populations with memory impairment.
The Bernhardt-Walther Lab at the University of Toronto investigates the neural and computational principles of high-level sensory perception. We employ neuroimaging (fMRI, MEG, EEG), psychophysics, eye tracking, and computational modeling to explore how people see and hear their real-world environments.
Our research takes a cognitive science approach to understand the cognitive and motivational processes underlying affective responses. Current research examines how motivation, goals, and context contribute to emotional and evaluative states. This work suggests that affective states are constructed moment to moment from multiple component processes that integrate relevant information from various sources such as automatically activated attitudes and situational contexts.
A fundamental question in the study of memory is why we remember some events and not others. Researchers have tended to approach this question by isolating discrete memory events from the backdrop of ongoing cognitive and neural processing. Despite its many successes, this approach neglects the processes that occur both before and after an event. Our research explores the possibility that this ongoing processing influences the fate of a memory. Specifically, we test how neuromodulators, like dopamine and acetylcholine, and the experiences that trigger their release, establish prolonged cognitive states, which facilitate either memory encoding or retrieval.
The Einstein lab studies how the structure and function of the brain is influenced by the context of people’s lives, especially sex and gender. For our research, we recruit women, men and gender-diverse individuals to explore how their brains and behaviour react and respond when they experience sex-specific health conditions, medical treatments or social practices. Our current research efforts explore cognitive and brain changes in women after ovarian removal, the neurobiological effects of cultural practices such as female genital cutting, and the effects of hormonal cycling on mood.
My research interests fall within the realm of Cognitive Neuroscience. The long-term goal of my research is to understand the cognitive and neural processes that support awareness of perception. As such, my work speaks to issues regarding the basic principles of the neural representation of visual perception and visually guided action. To examine the relationship between awareness and perception, my research program comprises diverse methodological approaches, such as the investigation of cognitive impairments in neurological patients (e.g., patients with spatial neglect or simultanagnosia), cognitive experiments in healthy individuals, and the examination of brain activity with modern neuroimaging techniques (fMRI and ERP).
The long-term goal of our lab is to understand how cognitive and brain development support or constrain learning outcomes. The emerging field of developmental cognitive neuroscience is unveiling vast structural and functional changes in neural systems across the brain. Likewise, core memory systems undergo substantial change across development. What do these changes mean for learning and memory systems? For language acquisition and achievement? For learning in more versus less enriching environments? Answering these questions is fundamental to understanding the nature of learning during childhood, to knowing why there are age-related limits on learning (critical or sensitive periods), and to understanding the role of the environment in shaping the relationship between brain development, cognitive development and learning.
Prof. Hasher’s gerontology research centers on two major issues. The first is the role that basic attentional processes play in the ability to understand language and remember events. The key question centers on how attention changes with age. The second line of work is concerned with adult age differences in circadian patterns of arousal and with synchrony effects, that is with the question of what aspects of cognition differ (or do not) when performed at an individual’s optimal vs. non-optimal time of day.
My lab studies human learning, focusing on how memory and attention systems interact to form new knowledge and influence perception. Making sense of this interaction will inform not only how learning succeeds, but also why it goes awry and how to put it back on track. We employ a combination of behavioral, computational modeling, and neuroscience (fMRI, TMS) approaches to investigate the cognitive and neural mechanisms of the learning brain.
The objectives of my current research program are to gain an understanding of the processes and brain mechanisms mediating memory, attention and recognition of faces and objects. The research is guided by a neuropsychological model of memory that has four components: 1) the posterior neocortex that mediates performance on tests of memory without awareness; 2) the medial temporal lobes that automatically store information that is consciously apprehended at encoding and obligatorily recovers information on tests of conscious recollection that are cue-driven; 3) the frontal lobes that work with memories delivered to and by the medial temporal lobes and posterior neocortex, and recovered from them by supporting strategic processes that are needed at encoding and retrieval; 4) the parietal cortex that directs attention to objects perceived in the external world and to internal processes necessary for memory encoding and retrieval.
My research falls in the domain of visual cognition. I am interested in how humans selectively acquire information from the visual field and how that information influences actions (and what happens to the ignored information). The research uses methods that involve measuring attention, eye movements, limb movements, and electrophysiological responses (EEGs/ERPs). A wide range of studies are conducted in the lab, including research on such topics as attention, inhibitory processes, consciousness, memory, motor control (eye and limb movements), perception, and aging.
The SPCL lab studies social perception and social cognition. Key themes of research within those broad topics focus on the role of person perception in predicting meaningful and ecologically-valid outcomes. Specifically, much of the research conducted within the lab examines the relationships between perceptions of leaders and their success. For example, in one paper we found that judgments of the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Fortune 1,000 companies predicted the amounts of profits that the CEOs’ companies earned. Follow-up work showed that this was true for female CEOs and for the Managing Partners of law firms. Subsequently, we have found evidence for some of the mechanisms guiding this effect: the facial characteristics allowing for this predictive relationship are present early in the leaders’ trajectories and perceivers seem to respond to the level of arousal evoked by the faces. A separate area of work has shown that the traits predicting leaders’ success are cross-culturally dependent, at least for political leaders. Interestingly, in related work we found that individuals’ political affiliations could be reliably judged from their faces.
The overarching goal of my research is to understand how we form and use knowledge across development. It has been demonstrated that adults can build upon what they know when learning new, related information. Yet, how existing knowledge impacts learning in children and adolescents remains virtually unstudied. My research uses cognitive neuroscience techniques (functional and structural MRI) to characterize how protracted change in the underlying neural systems might give rise to developmental differences in memory and reasoning abilities. Do children and adolescents capitalize on their existing knowledge during learning in the same way as adults? How does knowledge representation change across development? What are the situational and neural factors that promote learning in children? By answering these questions, my long-term goal is to help bridge the gap between neuroscience and education research and inform how we might promote classroom learning across development.