Dustin van Gerven
I am currently in the third year of my doctoral program at UVic. I am investigating how acute stress and stress hormones can change the way we think and behave from a behavioural and neurobiological perspective. I am currently investigating the effects of stress on different forms of spatial navigation using a specialized virtual navigation paradigm. In future research I hope to relate my findings to other areas of cognition, such as declarative memory, decision making and attention.
I am now a Master's student at UVic. I graduated
UVic last year in Psychology. My current interests are in gender differences in strategy selection in a virtual environment that allows for both spatial and non-spatial navigation and in the effect of cortisol on strategy selection. Last year Iworked on transitioning the lab to a new game engine and conducted 2 pilot studies to make sure the new environments yielded the same results as our old ones.
I'm working to develop VR paradigms with EEG analysis to
study the functional neuroanatomical systems that include the hippocampus which
underlie different aspects of spatial navigation, episodic memory, learning, and
imagination and other higher order cognitive functions. I joined the UVic
Spatial Lab in 2011 and am now an honours student in my last year of the
combined biology and psychology program. My research has included an
investigation of the effects of
acute induced stress on hippocampal memory. Currently, I am assisting in the development and evaluation of a cellphone transit app called CanGo, which is being designed to help survivors of Traumatic Brain Injury to ride the bus.
A primary interest of mine is the precise
neurocomputational mechanism by which the brain gives rise to complex cognitive
processes, particularly with regard to the selection of actions. An organism in
an environment is constantly afforded a wide variety of possible actions, and
must select particular responses based on task goals, reward history, etc.
Underlying this selection process is an elaborate neural system involving
complex interactions between cortical motor and prefrontal areas, the basal
ganglia, dopamineric neurons in the midbrain, and many other structures. Recent
attempts to employ computational and mathematical models of these neural systems
have been extraordinarily successful in describing the mechanism by which they
give rise to action selection and other cognitive processes (including working
I joined the UVic Spatial Lab in 2011 and last year was an
honours student in the combined biology and psychology program. My research
has included an investigation of the effects of acute induced stress on
hippocampal memory. Last year I led the development and evaluation of a
cellphone transit app called CanGo, which is being designed to help survivors of
Traumatic Brain Injury to ride the bus. I am currently employed at the Garth
Homer Centgre in Employment Services.
I am a recent BSc graduate from the University of Victoria working with Dustin until my convocation. Afterwards, I hope to teach English overseas before possibly returning to continue my studies.
Thomas van Heyningen
I was a 4th yeah Bio-psych student at the University of
Victoria; I joined the spatial
lab in 2012 to gain experience in experimental psychology. I have an interest in memory formation and the effects of stress in our day-to-day lives as well as in people who have suffered TBI. Last year I led a research study on the effects of mild stress on navigational strategy.
Sharon (Livingstone) Lee
Ph.D. graduate 2012. Research included behavioural investigations of human cognitive map formation and the utilization of eye-tracking to study spatial navigation strategies. Her work should provide a foundation for better understanding of the deficits in navigational ability that frequently occur after brain injury.
Honours B.Sc. graduate 2012. Researched the effect of naturalistic stress on hippocampally mediated memory processes.
Honours B.Sc. graduate 2012. Worked on developing a protocol that would be sensitive to the subtle memory and other cognitive deficits that are frequently reported in women ages 50 and older, and in breast cancer survivors treated with chemotherapy.
My research focuses on how people navigate. Using a virtual environment and eye tracker I am identifying the navigation strategy that people choose to use in an environment and how they acquire that strategy. In the future I hope to add electrophysiological measures to my research in an attempt to so the neural plastic process of strategy acquisition.
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