Our cognitive neuroscience research laboratory (NeuroLab) directed by Dr. Giuseppe Iaria is located in the Department of Psychology of the University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. We perform studies in real and virtual environments to understand the cognitive and neural mechanisms of human spatial orientation. There are four main research themes that extend from our interest in topographical orientation.
The first seeks to explain the natural variability in human orientation/navigation. Our tests are conducted in Magnetic Resonance Imaging facilities where we gain insight into the structure and function of the brain while people engage in specific orientation strategies. We hope to gain a deeper understanding of the cognitive performance in our tasks by understanding how the brain functions during them.
The second is to develop a richer understanding of Developmental Topographical Disorientation. Using neurological imaging techniques, we are exploring the brain structure of people with DTD to identify why they have difficulties with orientation/navigation. This project is currently being extended to include genetic research in order to isolate specific genes that may be related to DTD.
The third is to help rehabilitate people that get lost easily. This includes people with DTD, elderly and people with impaired orientation skills due to acquired brain injuries or neurological diseases. Using strategic interventions embedded in video games and real surroundings our mission is to help people become more competent at orientation while developing new skills.
The fourth research theme aims to investigate the how humans develop the ability to orient and navigate in spatial surroundings. This includes testing children at different stages of development while performing a variety of orientation tasks in both real and virtual environments. The goal is to collect normative data that will allow the development of a diagnostic tool for children at risk of spatial learning disability.
More information about Dr. Iaria can be found at his lab's website neurolab.ca