I am a Postdoctoral Research Associate, supervised by Dr Mario Parra Rodriguez, working on the development of a new cognitive marker for Alzheimer’s disease. The project addresses the following research questions:
a) Is the visual short-term memory binding (VSTMB) test sensitive to AD across populations with very different cultural backgrounds? Patients with amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairments (aMCI) and healthy controls will have their short-term memory tested yearly for the duration of 4 years to measure any changes in performance across time. Patients with different cultural backgrounds will be tested.
b) Can it yield a biomarker of memory for AD? By analysing EEG activity we will investigate which brain network activity is involved in VSTMB and specifically sensitive to AD.
c) Can Virtual Reality (VR) training be a useful tool to assess and rehabilitate daily living functions for people with dementia and does it help to maintain quality of life for longer. Though a virtual environment MCI patients will get trained on everyday life tasks. We want to investigate whether such VR training help maintain the patient’s ability to perform everyday life tasks.
I obtained a BSc in Biomedical sciences (2007, distinction) and an MSc in Neuroscience (2009, great distinction) from Ghent University (Belgium). During my MSc in Neuroscience, I was awarded with an Erasmus Exchange Scholarship to conduct Neuropharmacological research on Schizophrenia (9 months project) at the University of Insubria (Italy). Here, I investigated the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in the onset of schizophrenia-like behaviour in rats.
My interest for neurocognitive research made me decide to do an MSc in Human Cognitive Neuropsychology at the University of Edinburgh (U.K.). I graduated in 2010 with distinction. In 2015, I completed my PhD in Psychology at the University of Edinburgh. My PhD research was focussed on the cognitive basis of Accelerated Long-term Forgetting (ALF) in patients with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE) and Transient Epileptic Amnesia (TEA). I joined Heriot-Watt University in January 2016 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate working with Dr Mario Parra Rodriguez.
I am interested how cognitive functions, especially memory, are affected by healthy aging, amnesia and neurodevelopmental / neurodegenerative diseases. Moreover, I like investigating how forgetting rates are influenced by different learning paradigms, test materials, retrieval ques, training strategies and other factors.
I recently developed an interest to investigate cognition through imaging techniques such as EEG and fMRI. For my current project I have the opportunity to master such skills and gain expertise in EEG research.
I also hope to get more teaching/supervising experience in the future.