October 3rd, 2014
Congratulations to Lucy McGarry who defended her PhD dissertation on October 3rd, entitled: “The role of the mirror neuron system in bottom-up and top-down perception of human action”
Lucy’s dissertation research considered the involvement of the mirror neuron system (MNS) in the automatic simulation of others’ actions. This simulation process is thought to play a key role in emotional understanding and empathy. Study 1 (published in Experimental Brain Research, 2012) used novel EEG methods to demonstrate that the MNS is activated to a greater extent toward multi-modal versus unimodal sensory input. Study 2 (published in Cognitive, Affective, Behavioral Neuroscience, 2014) employed similar EEG methods to reveal that the MNS is preferentially engaged under emotional task conditions. Study 3 employed fMRI methods to assess the engagement of specific sub-regions of the MNS during different stimulus and task conditions. Together, these three studies suggest that the MNS is preferentially engaged during perception of emotional action and that the pattern of engagement may be further influenced by the modality of observation.
Thanks go to Dr. Todd Girard (PhD supervisory committee member) and the members of the examining committee: Dr. Isabelle Peretz (Université de Montréal), Dr. Michael Kolios (Physics, Ryerson), Dr. Jean-Paul Boudreau, and Dr. Donatus Oguamanam (Mech. Eng., Ryerson), who acted as Chair of the defense.
Lucy is teaching in the Department of Psychology this Fall, and she is set to begin a postdoctoral fellowship with Jessica Grahn at Western University in December, 2014.