Neuropsychological Research

Our Focus

Neuropsychological research in the PLAN Lab focuses on the testing/development of assessment and rehabilitation tools for acquired brain injuries. We specifically focus on conditions associated with stroke and traumatic brain injury. Our goals are to refine existing assessment tools for individuals who have experienced a stroke or TBI and explore new methods of understanding and treating these conditions.

Research focusing on stroke is conducted in collaboration with the Department of Psychology at Kelowna General Hospital.  TBI research is conducted in collaboration with local clinics and community members.

The use of eye-tracking in:

Hemispatial Neglect

Hemispatial neglect is defined as a failure to attend to the contralesional side of space in patients who have suffered a stroke. For example, these patients will only dress the non-neglected side of the body, apply make-up to only one side of the face and will often collide with objects on the neglected side of the body. With many neglect patients unaware of their condition, persistent neglect is a poor prognostic indicator for functional independence following stroke. Egocentric neglect causes inattention to stimuli presented on the contralesional side of the body (e.g., inattention to the entire left side of a page), while allocentric neglect results in poor report of elements on the contralesional side of individual objects (e.g., inattention to the left side of individual words on a page).

Few studies agree on the assessment, frequency, or prognosis of neglect or its subtypes. Members of the PLAN Lab are currently using eye-tracking technology to determine 1) whether allocentric and egocentric neglect can be accurately dissociated among patients using state of the art measurements of neglect subtype; 2) the relative frequencies of each subtype, and 3) whether there is a relationship between neglect subtype and prognosis, in terms of recovery and functional outcome

Assessment Measures in Stroke and TBI

The practice of neuropsychology relies on validating and contrasting new and existing tests focused on assessing cognitive function following injury. Neuropsychological tests specifically focus on performance based-evaluation of of attention, memory, processing speed, memory, language and executive function. Research in the PLAN Lab has focused on investigating the use of such measures among individuals who have experienced a stroke or TBI.

Udala, M., Ohlhauser, L., Campbell, M., Langlois, A. Leitner, D., Libben, M. & Miller, H. (2020)

A Comparison of the Buschke Selective Reminding Test and the California Verbal Learning Test- Second Edition in a Stroke Population.

Campbell, M., Leitner, D., Miller, H. & Libben, M. (2018)

A Comparison of the Buschke Selective Reminding Test and the California Verbal Learning Test- Second Edition in a Traumatic Brain Injury Population.

Leitner, D., Miller, H. & Libben, M. (2018)

One of the primary goals of neuropsychological assessment is to predict functional outcome following injury or disease. Research in the PLAN Lab focuses on testing methods to best predict acute and long-term functional outcome following stroke.

Functional outcome following stroke

The use of eye-tracking in neuropsychological assessment

Eye tracking has become a popular method for observing visual and cognitive processes. Subtle qualitative behaviour, such as overt visual attention, that is not easily or reliably available to the examiner, or accurately recalled by the examinee, can be captured using eye tracking for quantification and further analysis. Eye tracking is used to continuously measure the point of gaze (fixation) or movement (saccade) of the eyes. Diagnostically, eye tracking data has been shown to provide powerful discriminate validity between controls and clinical populations. For example, eye tracking has demonstrated utility in detecting visual deficits during reading and scene perception in patients with traumatic brain injury, as well as differentiating patients with Parkinson’s Disease from healthy controls. Overall, results suggest eye tracking may serve as a valuable marker for diagnosing, but less is known about its clinical utility in predicting function and how eye tracking may be beneficial in rehabilitation and assessment of daily function. In the PLAN Lab we have worked to incorporate eye-tracking into standard neuropsychological tests (e.g., the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test, the Trail Making Test) to improve assessment data.