We live in an age of technology. New computers. New tools (MEG/fMRI). And new algorithms. It can easily lead one to believe that innovative research for Cog Neuro questions mainly depend on hardware and infrastructure. However it is good to remember that our goal is to puzzle out the workings of people’s minds, and that means that “people” are actually the most important resource.
I like toys too. And using Xbox controllers and game like milieux to expand the range of tasks and measurments is both fun and an important route to performing more innovative experiments, but it is also great that we have access to patients (lots of them) and older controls through Waterloo’s Neurological Patient Database;NPD and Research in Aging Pool;WRAP.
I was reminded of this recently when submitting a manuscript on statistical learning. It started as a pretty innocent study, but it grew into something much larger because through the NPD and WRAP we were able to include participant groups with focal brain lesions (left and right hemisphere) as well as controls of the same age. We even had access to their neuroimages so that we could generate statistical maps (VLSM) of the association between performance and the location of brain injury. While I am happy to talk to anyone about our findings in that study (or send you a copy of the manuscript), the point I want to make here is to advertise these relatively unique (at least in Ontario) research resources so that potential graduate students are aware of the opportunity for patient based research in the setting of a Cognitive Neuroscience degree (while also having access to the “cool” tools of fMRI, EEG, eye tracking, and the like).