Welcome to the Paus laboratory. We are interested in the structural and functional organization of the human brain and the forces, in our genes and environment, that shape our brain and behaviour. Currently, we are pursuing two overarching themes:
In this work, we use both population-based and experimental approaches.
Population-based studies allow us to address questions about the role of genes and the environment in shaping the human brain and behaviour. These studies typically use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI; structural and functional) of the human brain, in combination with a detailed assessment of cognition and mental health, in a large number of individuals recruited from the general population. We also collect DNA and detailed questionnaire-based information about individuals' exposures (e.g. smoking during pregnancy) and experiences (e.g. stressful life events). Over the past five+ years, we have been focusing on the adolescent brain through the following population-based studies: Saguenay Youth Study, ALSPAC, and IMAGEN. At present, we are expanding this work to include a strong trans-generational component. The first of such studies involves a Canada-Finland collaboration investigating the brain & behaviour of middle-aged parents and their offspring, members of the Saguenay Youth Study and the Northern Finland Birth Cohort.
Experimental studies allow us to test some of the specific hypotheses arising from the above population-based studies. We do so in small studies carried out in healthy volunteers or patients with specific disorders and/or in experimental models. In these studies, we use not only MRI but also other tools such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), electroencephalography (EEG) and a combination of TMS with positron emission tomography (PET) and/or EEG. Work in experimental models (mice, rats) allows us to understand cellular processes underlying findings obtained in vivo in the human studies.
Our work is highly collaborative and spans a number of disciplines, from physics through genetics and epidemiology to psychiatry, psychology and sociology. This is also reflected in the varied background of our trainees.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive technique which uses a rapidly changing magnetic field to induce, through the skull, an electrical current in a localized region of the cerebral cortex. This allows researchers to study the functioning and interconnections of the human brain. A variant of TMS, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS), has been tested as a treatment tool for various neurological and psychiatric disorders including migraines, depression and movement disorders.
Presently, I am the Program Manager in the Paus laboratory at the Rotman Research Institute. My research interests include the neural correlates of body perception in adolescents and their impact on clinical conditions including anorexia and bulimia nervosa.
I completed my MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging at the University of Nottingham in 2009, worked as a research assistant for the European project Imagen, and then moved with the Paus Lab to the Rotman Research Institute to start my PhD. I am interested in the effects of prenatal and postnatal hormones on neural connectivity and social cognition. My research uses fMRI, eye-tracking, and behavioral tasks.
I am a PhD student in psychology at the University of Toronto. I am interested in exploring the non-reproductive effects of steroid hormones throughout the body, especially in the central nervous system. My PhD research centers on exploring lifelong risk factors of dementia, in particular the roles of steroid hormones and adiposity. Other projects I am working on include: exploring the relationship between ovarian hormones and mood; investigating changes in attention and working memory across the menstrual cycle; and using personality based measures of psychopathic tendencies to explore psychopathy in adolescent populations.
I am working on my Master's through the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto. My research in the Paus Lab will examine the relationship between testosterone levels, structural properties of white matter, and risk of mental health problems during male adolescence.
For more information about the Paus laboratory, please contact:
Dr. Rosanne Aleong
3560 Bathurst Street
Brain Health Complex Room 1022
Telephone: 1-416-785-2500 ext. 3620