My early memories include coming up with a theory for how diseases spread and designing rockets so that my brother and I could replicate Evel Knievel stunts. Fortunately, that design never made it to production.
I got inspired to study the brain in my first year Psychology class, taught by Rob Sutherland at the University of Lethbridge, which was followed by a class on Brain and Behaviour from Ian Whishaw. I was hooked on neuroscience. Shortly thereafter I was fortunate to get a student position with Rod Cooper at the University of Calgary. There, I started learning about “neuroimaging” with the autoradiographic 2-deoxyglucose method, where we studied the relation of learning and visual system function in rats. It was shortly around this time where my interest in exploring brain networks, rather than regions, emerged. This led to a parallel development of analytic tools, which formed the basis of my PhD work done with Francisco Gonzalez-Lima at the University of Texas at Austin. The methods continued to evolve when I did my postdoctoral fellowship with Barry Horwitz and NIH, where we moved the network analysis tools to human neuroimaging (see our paper for a narrative of this journey).
The analytic methods were never developed in a theoretical vacuum. Early on in my neuroscience career, I drew inspiration from the seminal works of Cajal, Lashley, Hebb, and Luria, who all emphasized aspects distributed functions of the brain in creating the mind. Most of my work has taken these ideas and developed them through empirical investigation to form new perspectives on brain networks. I now benefit from frequent interactions with many colleagues in hammering out these ideas, including Giulio Tononi, Olaf Sporns, and my close collaborators Petra Ritter and Viktor Jirsa. Many of the discussions happened as part of the long running Brain Connectivity Workshops. Indeed, one of these meetings led to a pub chat with Viktor the spawned to development of TheVirtualBrain, the most recent example of novel tools to study brain network function.
While I am a scientist, that’s not all I do. My early curiosity of science happened at the same time as I developed interest in music. I am drawn to music from a deeply personal space and find it a wonderful complement to my scientific aspirations. Like other forms of art, music and science overlap so much that I often find insight from considering music as a way to understand how the brain works. If you go through my social media posts, you’ll find my posts are split between my scientific and my musical interests. There is other stuff I post, but we won’t talk about that here :)
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VISITING Lab MEMBERS
Anjali Raja-Beharelle, Post Doctoral Fellow @ University of Zurich
Marc Berman, Assistant Professor @ University of Chicago
Gleb Bezgin, Research Associate @ McGill University
Roberto Cabeza, Professor @ Duke University
Valeria Della-Maggiore, Director @ Physiology of Action Lab in Buenos Aires
Andreaa Diaconescu, Post Doctoral Fellow @University of Zurich
Zainab Fatima, Post Doctoral Fellow @ Northwestern University
John Griffiths, Assistant Professor (status only) @ CAMH; Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto
Reza Habib, Associate Professor @ Southern Illinois University
Jennifer Heisz, Assistant Professor @ McMaster University
Roxanne Itier, Associate Professor @ University of Waterloo
Bratislav Misic, Principle Investigator @ Network Neuroscience Lab, MNI
Lars Nyberg, Professor @ Umea University
Jordan Poppenk, Assistant Professor @ Queen's University
Andrea Protzner, Associate Professor @ University of Calgary
Maria Natasha Raja, Associate Professor @ McGill University
Vasily Vakorin, NeuroInformatics and NeuroAnalytics Lead @ Simon Fraser University