Meet our 25.55 winners for October 2016: Dr. Anne Sophie Champod

Assistant Professor - Department of Psychology

Email address:
Telephone: 902-585-1332
Office location: Horton Hall 301

Dr. Anne Sophie Champod's current program of research focuses on various topics within the field of clinical neuropsychology and cognitive neuroscience. Her research has aimed to better understand the neuronal basis of attention and working memory processes with the ultimate goal of developing new assessment techniques and rehabilitation interventions to improve cognitive functioning in neurological populations.

Project Summary for 25.55 Funding:

Orienting to objects or events in the environment is an important function of attention. Deficits affecting attention orienting skills are frequent in neurological and psychiatric conditions (e.g., in stroke and schizophrenia) and the development of assessment tools for orienting deficits is the first step towards the improvement of clinical outcomes in these populations. An important factor that has not been taken into consideration in the development of these tools is the underlying mechanisms of attention orienting.

Orienting can be controlled by both automatic and voluntary processes that interact in visual exploratory behaviour. Research has shown that these two mechanisms can be differentially affected in clinical disorders and could, therefore, be relevant to the

development of assessment tools and interventions. Previous studies of orienting have used basic computerized cueing paradigms that require participants to orient to simple stimuli (e.g., letters or shapes) on a screen. This approach can be criticized for a lack of real-world relevance. We have developed a computerized cueing paradigm that uses a complex visual scene that is more generalizable to real-world function. Some of the preliminary results obtained using this new software were inconsistent with key findings in the literature using traditional cueing paradigms.

The proposed studies will be conducted to systematically examine the reason for these inconsistent findings. The results will be helpful in highlighting the limitations of the paradigm that has been used for decades to study attention orienting processes. The validation of this new software is the initial phase of a research project that will aim at evaluating orienting skills as they occur in naturalistic settings in neurological and psychiatric populations with attention deficits.

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