With the explosion of data being generated and shared in recent years one of my interests is in applying cutting edge statistical techniques to explore large datasets. As such my dissertation project uses community detection analysis among other statistical techniques to reassess the sub-typing framework used in Aphasia diagnosis by analyzing data from the Moss Aphasia Psycholinguistic Project Database.
The Structure of Semantic Memory
Semantic memory is a crucial aspect of human cognition. It allows us to understand language and interact with the world around us. Although there has been a rich history of research investigating the structure and funcitons of semantic memory many aspects still remain unclear. One question that still remains unanswered is how our minds handle the distinction between taxonomic (e.g., DOG and WOLF) and thematic (e.g., DOG and LEASH) relationships. In attempts to better understand how our semantic system handles this distinction I have used eye-tracking, cognitive modelling and behavioral research methods.
A key method in understanding the relationship between cognitive processes and the neural substrates that support them is Lesion symptom mapping. Another aspect of my dissertation work is using VLSM to reanalyze the relationship between behavioral deficits of aphasiac patients and the neural damage associated with these deficits. I am also working to develop a neural network that can predict a patients deficit based on their lesion map. Further, in collaboration with Dr. Mirman and Dr. Pustina I have been working to develop better statistical methods for analyzing lesion maps.
Exercise and Cognition
In recent years there has been a large push to understand the effects that exercise has on our minds. Although there has been a number of studies investigating its effects there is still a lot left to question. In a systematic review of the literature it not only appears that aerobic and anaerobic exercise may have differing effects, but that anaerobic exercise may provide selective benefits to cognition.
Understanding Food Choice
In collaboration with a team consisting of cognitive psychologists, clinical psychologists, nutritionists and the Drexel University Athletic Director, we developed and received a seed grant from the Drexel University Excite Center. The project uses eye-tracking in a naturalistic buffet setting in an attempt to better understand how athletes and non-athletes make food choices. The ultimate goal of the project is to not only better understand differences in decision making between athletes and non-athletes but to also inform nutritional strategies in the greater population.