News & Events

Royce-Harder Research Conference

Day 1
Brian Harder Honors Day and Undergraduate Psychology Research Showcase
Date: Thursday, April 4 2019
Time : 1:00pm - 5:00pm
Loc: Humanities Centre L-1

Day 2

33rd Annual Joseph R. Royce Psychology Conference
Date: Friday, April 5 2019
Time: 8:30am - 5:00pm
Loc: Tory Lecture B1


Royce-Harder Online Program

Come and share your research through engaging talks and poster presentations during this exciting two-day event hosted by the Department of Psychology. All of the exciting research in psychology being conducted at the University of Alberta is presented in the following engaging formats:

  1. Poster Presentation
    This format provides an opportunity for poster presenters to engage with conference attendees in an interactive setting, allowing them to get feedback and network with other scholars. Posters will be on display for the entire day and presenters will stand by their poster for about an hour to explain their research to interested participants.
  2. Short Talk
    This format provides an opportunity for talk presenters to share their research and main findings with the audience. Presenters will give a 10-12 minute talk, followed by 3-5 minutes for questions from the audience.

Brian Harder Honors Day and Undergraduate Psychology Research Showcase (Thursday April 4, 2019)

Keynote Speaker: Oury Monchi, Hotchkiss Brain Institute, University of Calgary

Oury MonchiTitle: Multi-modal neuroimaging and other markers of cognitive deficits and decline in Parkinson’s disease

Abstract: Many patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) will develop cognitive deficits early in the disease, and that a majority will develop dementia after 15 years of diagnosis. Persons who meet criteria for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) exhibit measurable cognitive deficits but those deficits are not severe enough to interfere significantly with daily life. While the presence of MCI in PD increases the chance of developing dementia, various studies suggest that PD-MCI might consist of distinct subtypes with different pathophysiologies and prognoses. In this talk, we will review different characteristics linked to neuropsychological and neuropsychiatric function that can affect cognition and its evolution in PD. We will first show how task-based functional MRI can inform us regarding the circuits affected, and then present studies using MRI anatomical and functional connectivity methods that attempt to characterize better the various cognitive profiles and patterns of evolution observed with PD. We will finish by presenting Mild Behavioural Impairment, a validated neurobehavioral syndrome, developed as a diagnostic construct to identify patients at increased risk of cognitive decline. Preliminary data using behavioural, neuroimaging, and machine learning approaches will be presented that provide evidence that it might be a useful tool for predicting cognitive decline in PD.

Bio: Dr. Monchi obtained his Ph.D. in Computational Neuroscience at King’s College London, University of London, UK. He then pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at the Montreal Neurological Institute and at the Centre de Recherche de l’Institut Universitaire de Gériatrie de Montréal in neuroimaging and cognitive neuroscience applied to Parkinson’s disease. Until the summer of 2014 he was Associate Professor of Radiology at the Université de Montréal. Dr. Monchi is Professor and director for clinical research at the department of Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Calgary. He is also the Movement Disorders Brain and Mental Health leader at the Hotchkiss Brain Institute. He holds the Canadian Research Chair (Tier 1) in non-motor symptoms of Parkinson's disease and the Tourmaline Oil Chair in Parkinson's disease. In 2018, he became the director of the recently created Canadian-Open Parkinson Network, (C-OPN), a platform funded by Brain-Canada and Parkinson Canada. His lab has been a pioneer in using different neuroimaging techniques to study fronto-striatal function and the origins and evolution of cognitive deficits in Parkinson's disease with the ultimate goal of early prediction of dementia in the disease. Interactions between neuropsychiatric symptoms and cognitive deficits and decline are also being studied. Methods used include functional and anatomical MRI, TMS, PET, neuropsychological evaluations, and genotyping.

More information about Oury Monchi


Joseph R. Royce Psychology Conference (Friday April 5, 2019)

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Jennifer Vonk, Oakland University

Jennifer Vonk Title: Challenges and Insights from a Comparative Approach to Comparative Psychology

Abstract: I will address the importance of testing multiple species to provide a full account of the evolutionary processes underlying cognition, noting the challenges of such an approach. I will present research tapping into general cognitive processes, such as behavioral flexibility, with a focus on large carnivores. I will also address work designed to test the species-specific capabilities of various other species, and address how captive and domestic environments may shape cognition.

Bio: Jennifer Vonk is a comparative cognitive psychologist who has conducted research on a wide variety of species, including amphibians, birds, bats, domestic cats and dogs, bears, nonhuman primates, and human children and adults. She graduated with her PhD in comparative psychology from York University, Canada in 2002 and previously held a faculty position at the University of Southern Mississippi before joining Oakland University in 2011. She has published over 100 empirical papers, book chapters, commentaries, and edited volumes, and has several editorial positions including Co-Editor-in-Chief for Animal Behavior and Cognition. She is a fellow of the Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology/Division 6 of the American Psychological Association. Her primary research interest is in understanding the selective pressures responsible for higher order cognition, such as abstraction, causal reasoning, and theory of mind. She is also interested in research that contributes to improving the welfare of captive species.

More information about Jennifer Vonk

Invited Internal Speaker: Dr. Roger A. Dixon, University of Alberta

Roger DixonTitle: What do Trajectories of Brain and Cognitive Aging Reveal about Risk for (and Protection from) Alzheimer’s Disease?

Abstract: An intriguing consensus has consolidated in many quarters that “the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has proven to be more complex than expected” (NIH, PAR-15-356). The implications of this observation have led to accelerated attention to multiple new directions in AD theory, research, intervention, prevention, and translation. Among these new approaches are five that inform the perspective and research presented in this talk.

First, recent attention has focused not only on the complexity of the outcome condition (AD and related brain disorders) but also on the pathways and predictors preceding such diagnoses. Second, there is, however, a paucity of foundational information about distributional and directional characteristics of preclinical brain and cognitive trajectories. Third, although a number of biomarker and risk factor predictors of AD have been identified, it is an open question whether these are also early (or the best) predictors of differential pre-impairment trajectories. Fourth, the etiological complexity of emerging and differentiating neurodegenerative diseases indicate that multiple modalities of early bio-signals may operate dynamically and interactively to produce differential trajectories of change. Fifth, it is conceivable that precise trajectory analyses would reveal a spectrum of trajectory phenotypes, including (a) impairment and disease-bound pathways, (b) normal brain and cognitive aging, and (c) elevated and sustained pathways of brain and cognitive resilience. In sum, by elucidating the nature and range of preclinical trajectories, as well as the bio-signal predictors determining individualized pathways, it may be possible to identify new potential prevention targets.

This work is conceived and conducted in the leveraged and coordinated context of the 25-year Victoria Longitudinal Study (NIH) and the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging (CIHR).

Bio: Roger A. Dixon (University of Alberta) is Professor of Psychology (Science) and a member of the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. He has held previous appointments at Max Planck Institute (Berlin) and University of Victoria (Canada), as well as several international guest positions (eg. Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm; Stanford Centre for Advanced Studies, California). His recent recognitions include a Canada Research Chair (Tier 1, 2003-2010, 2010-2017), the 2013-14 Baltes Award for Distinguished Career Research in Aging (from the American Psychological Association), and two U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) MERIT Awards. His research is conducted primarily in the context of two large-scale national and international projects. First, he is the PI and Director of the Victoria Longitudinal Study, which has been funded continuously for over 25 years by NIH and other sources and partners. It is a large-scale, multi-cohort, epidemiological study of neurocognitive, biological, biomedical, genetic, environmental, lifestyle, and functional changes affecting neurocognitive aging. Second, he is a PI of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, a multi-disciplinary nation-wide investigation of multiple neurodegenerative diseases. The CCNA is funded by CIHR and partners and deploys cutting edge technologies in the domains of biomarkers, neuroimaging, genetic, neurocognitive, intervention, and clinical approaches to understanding Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Current research emphases include examining (1) dynamic, interactive, and synergistic functions of risk, protective, and resilience biomarkers representing multiple domains of brain aging and dementia, (2) how these biomarkers influence preclinical trajectories, transitions and clinical outcomes in healthy, normal, impaired, and neurodegenerative changes, and (3) omics-based biomarker discovery, validation, and translation in neurodegenerative disease.

Previous Royce-Harder Conferences