Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Visiting speaker: Mazda Beigi, Institute of Neurology and Brunel University

Date and time: Thursday 1st May, 3:30pm, room HG09

Title: “New considerations for incidental learning based on neurological and methodological principles"

There remains a fundamental debate regarding how processing of incidental information implicates neurological diseases and how treatments modulate performance. These issues were explored, in normal participants and neurological patients, using manipulations of the Serial Reaction Task [SRT] in which participants gradually learn a stimulus sequence. Our experiments have demonstrated that the specific metric used to quantify learning and the occurrence of highly salient repeat locations may inflate estimates of learning in tasks with increased motor demands, suggesting the way learning is measured to be of greater significance than once thought. The next study demonstrates that impairments of incidental learning in Parkinson’s disease are partially reduced by administration of l-Dopa medication, demonstrating the different effects of medication on learning. Finally, the impact of Deep Brain Stimulation of the GPi is investigated in a population known to have only limited cognitive deficits relating to their illness (dystonia). Despite previous reports of impaired intentional learning in this population, there was no evidence for any impairment before or after stimulation. The implications of these findings are discussed.

I graduated from Brunel University in 2007 during which I worked as a research fellow at the institute of neurology (IoN) in Queen Square. In 2007 I was awarded an ESRC studentship and went on to complete an MRes at Brunel before my PhD which was in collaboration between Brunel and the IoN.

My research interests are primarily incidental learning and in particular sequence learning. I have worked with both health participants but have mainly conducted research into the effects of surgery and medication on patients with basal ganglia disorders.

I have spent 6 years working in the functional neurosurgery unit at the IoN working with patients with movement disorders applying for Deep Brain Stimulation surgery. I have also worked in supported housing and social care settings with learning disability groups as well as in probation services with high risk and serious offenders.

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