Brian Levine, Ph.D., C.Psych., ABPP-cn
Senior Scientist, Rotman Research Institute, Baycrest Health Sciences
Professor of Psychology and Medicine (Neurology), University of Toronto
Dr. Brian Levine obtained his Ph.D. in 1991 from the University of South Florida and completed fellowships in clinical neuropsychology at McLean Hospital in Boston and cognitive neuroscience at the Rotman Research Institute. He has published over 140 peer reviewed scientific articles and chapters on memory, frontal lobe function, traumatic brain injury, aging, dementia, and rehabilitation as well as Mind and the Frontal Lobes: Cognition, Behavior, and Brain Imaging (2012, Oxford University Press) and Goal Management Training® intervention for executive deficits (with Ian Robertson and Tom Manly). He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and Association for Psychological Science and recipient of the 2015 International Neuropsychological Society's Benton award for mid-career research achievement. His research has been funded by federal agencies (CIHR, NIH) continuously for the past 18 years, receiving nearly $7 million in funding as a principal investigator. Dr. Levine, a board-certified neuropsychologist, is clinically active, providing expert opinions in cases involving brain injury, dementia, and psychiatric disorders. Dr. Levine is frequently called upon to communicate research findings to health professionals and the general public. He has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBC radio, USA Today, Psychology Today, Scientific American Mind, Wired, New York Magazine, and Discovery Health.
Raluca Petrican, PhD
My research investigates the brain mechanisms underlying age-related and individual differences in how people perceive, respond and subsequently remember emotional events. My doctoral work, supervised by Morris Moscovitch, examined how insult to the brain systems, involved in emotional perception and experience, impacted memory for marriage-relevant events and close relationship quality. To this end, I compared the behavioral profiles of neurologically intact elderly married couples and couples in which one spouse had been diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disorder (i.e. Parkinson's Disease [PD]), which leads to impairments in the production and decoding of emotional cues. During my prior postdoctoral fellowship in Cheryl Grady’s lab, I investigated the neurodevelopmental trajectory of cognitive control processes and their role in affective experience. My present projects in the Levine lab are intended to characterize the neural architecture underlying individual differences in episodic and autobiographical memory across typical and atypical development. In my spare time, I enjoy swing dancing, reading fiction and exploring new places (physical or virtual).
Jordan Lass, PhD
My curiosity about human nature and pscyhology was sparked as a young child when visiting my great grandmother with Alzheimer's disease at Baycrest. From my first summer research position, also at Baycrest, through studying cognitive developmental neuroscience of math ability in undegrad at Western University, my interest in the mind & brain have continuously deepened. Focussing on cognitive behavioural neuroscience of vision in healthy aging over my PhD at McMaster University, I began to realize the importance of aging research. I am now pursuing a career where I can conduct aging research and translate science into clinical applications or commercial innovations to help overcome the challenges associated with the aging of our population. Also passionate about technology and education, I look forward to being part of the multidisciplinary effort to advance knowledge, educate patients, promote brain health, and inform policy. I am especially excited to have joined the GMT project, and I hope to help translate this powerful cognitive intervention into a platform that increases accessibility for patients and efficiency of clinicians. Outside of the lab, I enjoy playing sports and music, delving into mind-bending conversations, and helping others master technology.
Graduate Students (Primary)
I graduated from McGill University with a B.A. & Sc. in Psychology, Anthropology, and English. For my undergraduate thesis, I conducted research to find out if the beta-blocker propranolol could disrupt the reconsolidation of a morphine place preference in rats. In the Levine lab, I have continued my study of memory, but in humans rather than animals. In particular, for my Masters thesis, I developed a novel recognition-type memory questionnaire that tests participants' memory for a scripted event. As a separate project, I also conducted an eye-tracking study where I investigated whether or not saccadic eye movements benefit the amount of details recollected during episodic recall. For my doctoral dissertation, I plan to apply both of these novel paradigms to combined neuroimaging and eye-tracking research to find out how the visual circuit is involved in autobiographical memory. Outside of the lab, I enjoy listening to music, jamming on my saxophone, playing soccer, hockey, basketball and tennis, and going for runs.
A graduate of the Honours Psychology, Neuroscience and Behavioural Program at McMaster University, I am now enrolled in the combined MD.PhD Program with the institute of medical science (IMS) as my graduate unit. After completing my first year of medical school, I have now started working towards my Ph.D. at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Hospital under the supervision of Dr. Brian Levine in collaboration with the Centre for Stroke Recovery at Sunnybrook Hospital. My research at Baycrest focuses on investigating mechanisms driving rehabilitation of cognitive function following stroke. Specifically, my project involves using multimodal brain imaging techniques (simultaneous EEG-fMRI) to discover new biomarkers of covert stroke (cerebral small vessel disease) effects on cognition. I am also involved in a longitudinal rehabilitation initiative to understand how goal management training can help individuals overcome executive dysfunction following diffuse brain injury. I hope the findings from my research will improve our understanding of rehabilitation and inform development of more targeted interventions. Outside of graduate school, one of my biggest passions and what originally convinced me to pursue a career as a clinician scientist is my passion for innovation and my desire to work in a way that is not only beneficial for my future patients but for the broader public as well. Ultimately, I would like to strive towards finding new and innovative ways in which technology can be used to improve all aspects of patient care. On a personal level, landscape photography is my hobby and I am currently working towards become a certified photographer in my spare time.
I graduated from Western University with an Honours B.A. in philosophy and psychology. In my final year at Western, I volunteered in a neuroscience of music lab focusing on rhythm perception. My main research interest in the Levine lab is in investigating the mechanisms underlying our capacity for reconstructing and richly re-experiencing past events (episodic autobiographical memory), and how this capacity is compromised in aging and disease. For my MA thesis, I aimed to help bridge the gap between laboratory-based and naturalistic conceptions of episodic memory by probing memory quality and accuracy for the same event content encoded in a real-life (walking tour) vs. laboratory (computer-based slideshow) context. My main present and future goal is to explore how oscillatory dynamics coordinate network-wide brain activity in producing coherent spatial and mnemonic representations. In my spare time, I enjoy running, sitting, reading, metacognizing, and funk music.
I graduated from York University with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) in Psychology. My undergraduate thesis (completed under Dr. Gary Turner) focused upon investigating the unity/dissociability of three frequently posited executive functions: working memory, inhibition and task-switching. In graduate school I have decided to focus upon memory functioning in clinical populations. Specifically, for my masters, I plan on investigating remote spatial memory in major depressive disorder (MDD) using various spatial memory and autobiographical measures (such as the Autobiographical Interview). With this research, I hope to improve our understanding of both spatial memory function as well as the neuroanatomical underpinnings of depression. Outside of the lab, I like to read and write in my spare time as well as indulge myself in video games and movies.
Melissa Hebscher (Affiliated)
I graduated from the Honours Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour program at McMaster University. For my undergraduate thesis, I examined the relationship between memory, neurogenesis and different lifestyle factors such as hormones, stress, and alcohol consumption. My interest in studying memory has continued into my current graduate studies. For my master's thesis, I developed a novel behavioural task, successfully demonstrating that the spatial context of an event is retrieved before other information in episodic autobiographical memory. For my PhD, I plan to use a combination of behavioural, neuroimaging, and neurostimulation approach to further elucidate the temporal dynamics and neural underpinnings of episodic autobiographical memory, with a focus on determining the role that spatial information plays in its retrieval and elaboration. In my spare time I enjoy baking, reading, exploring, and listening to music.
I graduated from McGill university with a B.Sc. in Honours Psychology. At McGill, I worked on two main research projects: a behavioural and neuroimaging study investigating age-related changes to autobiographical memory and open-ended problem solving abilities, and a behavioural study examining the contributions of episodic memory processes to clinical decision making (i.e., diagnoses). Throughout high school and undergrad, I also spent several summers conducting research in a cerebrovascular physiology lab at the University of Calgary, studying the effects of aerobic exercise on brain blood flow and cognitive function in older adults. These combined experiences have led to a broad interest in how memory functions in the real world and contributes to other cognitive processes, and in how all this changes with age — and these are interests that I hope to explore during my graduate studies in the Levine Lab. Outside of research, I love reading, running, playing and listening to music, and finding obscure activities to explore around the city!
I recently graduated from Western University, with an Honours B.Sc. in Neuroscience. For my undergraduate thesis, I examined the effects of a low-grade bacterial endotoxin on anxiety-like behaviours in adolescent rats. Throughout my university career, I especially enjoyed working in a cognitive neuroscience lab as well as volunteering with the Canadian Mental Health Association. Now, at the Levine lab, my primary duties include participant recruitment, neuropsychological and neuroimaging testing as well as data management. I am currently involved in a study examining brain health in high-level athletes. In my spare time, I enjoy baking, travelling and watching movies.
I am a graduate of the University of Victoria, with a B.Sc. in Biology and a Co-op distinction. There, I had the opportunity to explore my varied interests through a number of work placements, lending me further insight into the vast applicability of biology to the world at large. It was after one of these placements in the Alain Lab at Baycrest that my interest in neuroscience began in earnest. Now, my role at the Levine lab primarily focuses on assisting with research protocols as well as the processing and analysis of neuroimaging data. Outside of the lab, I love to travel, bake, and listen to live music.
I recently graduated from McMaster University, with an Honours B.Sc. in Biology and Psychology. Throughout my degree I explored the field of developmental psychology, and completed an undergraduate thesis working on identifying early social markers of autism spectrum disorder. Having devoted much of my undergraduate career to child development research, what drew me to the Levine Lab was the chance to explore human psychology in older adults. My primary duties in the lab include participant recruitment, neuropsychological testing and scoring, and data management. I am currently involved in studies assessing the rehabilitation of cognitive function following stroke, and improving driving in patients with mild cognitive impairment. Outside of the lab, I enjoy cooking, reading, and doing yoga!
I am currently pursuing a Honours B.Sc. in Neuroscience, Psychology, and Physiology at the University of Toronto. I have developed a strong passion for, and investment in, research through my experiences working in clinical rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities, and the Levine Lab. My primary responsibilities in the Levine Lab have included subject recruitment, scoring and norming neuropsychological assessments, and assisting various studies investigating episodic autobiographical memory. I hope to continue to explore the neural processes underlying human behaviour to help improve the care provided to patients with neurological impairments. Outside of the lab, I enjoy swimming, playing music, and field hockey.
I am currently pursuing an Honours BSc at the University of Toronto, studying Neuroscience and Physiology. In my early undergraduate years, my curiosity about scientific research grew and I became fascinated by neuropsychology and neuroimaging. I am interested in studying how neurological disorders, whether acquired or developmental, affect brain structure and activity as well as their impact on cognitive functioning and behavioral outcomes. At the Levine Lab, my main role is to score and norm neuropsychological assessments. In my spare time, I enjoy discovering new music and experimenting with film photography.