As a Wall Scholar Prof. Boyd will turn her attention to developing understanding of the importance of the arts for brain health. Literature, music and art have always been highly valued by humans but their impact on neurobiology is not well understood. Yet their persistence through time and intrinsic value across all cultures demonstrate their significance. Given that arts exposure and training are often the first to be set aside when economies struggle it is critical that we understand their impact on brain health. Prof. Boyd’s goal for her time as a Wall Scholar is to build a new interdisciplinary research team that generates data explaining how the arts impact brain function, structure and excitability, and ultimately affect brain health.
Prof. Lara Boyd is a Neuroscientist and Physical Therapist at UBC. She has held a Canada Research Chair, a Michael Smith Foundation for Health Career Scientist award and was a Peter Wall Early Career Scholar in 2012. Dr. Boyd directs the Brain Behaviour Lab at UBC. Her TEDx talk “After this your brain will not be the same” has over 24 million views. Prof. Boyd is an expert in mapping how behaviours, environments and experiences affect brain health and learning using techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging and non-invasive brain stimulation. To date this work has largely examined the impact of exercise and learning on neurobiology.
Primary Recipient Awards
Co-Principal Investigator Awards
This project was supported as a Peter Wall Institute Trustees Initiative for two years.
Learning how to perform opera is both cognitively and physically demanding, yet some of the students who have been most successful in UBC’s Opera Program have had learning disabilities, and appear to have overcome their difficulties, or to have learned compensatory skills that help them not just in opera performance but beyond. The goal of the proposed research is to systematically evaluate and better explain the neural foundations of that observation. In this endeavor, a study is proposed to measure executive function and other learning capabilities before and after opera training, and to determine – through MRI measurement of anatomical changes in fiber tracts in the brain and through EEG measures of circuit function– the neural bases of the behavioral improvements. Necessary control conditions are included to specify just what it is about opera training that leads to success.
Prof. Ivry’s research program examines various aspects of human performance with an emphasis on how people select, plan, and execute movements. A major theme in his recent work has been to explore the interaction of multiple systems in the course of sensorimotor control and learning. For example, he has developed methods to identify the contribution of explicit and implicit processes in sensorimotor learning, and linked these processes to specific neural systems through his work with patients with neurological disorders. To date, this work has focused on characterizing general principles and constraints of these learning systems and their interaction, focusing on analyses at the group level.
While at UBC, Prof. Ivry is interested in expanding this line of work, to ask how performance is influenced by contextual factors such as the emotional and physical state of the individual,or the social context in which the action is performed or learned. Prof. Ivry plans to apply the analytic tools and computational models developed in his lab to explore the specific mechanisms impacted by these variables. Prof. Ivry will be hosted by Drs. Alan Kingstone and Lara Boyd. He is also collaborating with Dr. Romeo Chua in the School of Kinesiology.