"Virtually" connected: Can virtual reality technology foster closeness and intimacy in romantic relationships? - Year two

Social connections, especially satisfying romantic relationships, are vital for health and well-being. Yet, couples are spending increasingly more time apart, limiting opportunities for connection and intimacy. However, engaging in shared novel activities (i.e. self-expanding activities) can help couples connect and maintain their relationship over time. Indeed, couples who experience more self-expanding opportunities in relationships feel closer to their partner and are more satisfied and connected in their relationship.

Mood state and outcome prediction in mood disorders using digital phenotyping andmachine learning

Individuals with mood disorders suffer with a significant burden. Beside experiencing mood symptoms, they also have cognitive and functioning impairments, are at greater risk of suicide and hospitalization, and have a poorer quality of life. Traditional psychiatric assessments are subjective and not able to capture events in real-time. Smartphone assessments and digital phenotyping – the interaction between user and smartphone captured in real-time – can provide a more robust, objective, and extensive view of what is going on with mood disorder subjects.

Validation of the Rootd App for Reducing Anxiety and Panic Attacks

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become quite apparent that mental health needs to be prioritized. Due to the demands of social isolation, getting adequate mental health support can be difficult. However, the mobile application Rootd provides a low-cost and large-scale solution to this problem, as it can help the average person deal with increased anxiety and panic attacks. In this proposed work, we will undertake a scientific validation of the Rootd app through the use of methods from psychology and neuroscience.

Simultaneous Functional Calcium Imaging with Quartet® for studying odor memory circuits and developing second generation Quartet®

Episodic memory refers to an ensemble of memory processes and is the capacity to recollect where and when past events occurred, which involves subjective consciousness and a sense of time in retrieving past experiences. The hippocampus is essential for representing spatiotemporal context and establishing its association with the sensory details of daily life to form episodic memories and the olfactory cortex shares exclusive anatomical connections with the hippocampus as a result of their common evolutionary history. This makes olfaction a privileged sense for accessing memories.

Leveraging machine learning to improve trauma-related health outcomes

Severe and multiple traumas can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which causes distress and difficulty in many areas of life. Military members, veterans, and public safety personnel such as police officers, firefighters, and rescue workers are often exposed to traumatic events on-the-job (seeing natural disasters, human violence, or death). One severe subtype of PTSD is PTSD with dissociation, where the person feels as if one’s body is not their own, or as if the outside world is not real.

Technology for Assessing Neurocognitive Functioning; Validation of Mobile Cognitive Assessment Technology using fMRI

There is growing concern that COVID-19 has neuroinflammatory effects which can have acute or sustained impacts on cognition. Tablet-based games can be used to monitor cognition in medical settings but have not been validated as measures of brain function. The current project will administer a suite of tablet-based measures of cognition as images of the functioning brain are acquired using an MRI scanner.

Novel service delivery models for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families in light of the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 has changed the way we access services in the community. Many services are now being offered online or over the phone instead of in a building. While this works for some families, families who are new to Canada, do not speak English, and don’t have access to technology may not be able to receive services during the pandemic. Children with brain-based disabilities may have difficulty with their behaviour, paying attention, and socializing with other children. This can add extra stress to parents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Combating loneliness at the neighbourhood level: Developing a Community Cohesion Index

With an increasing concern toward social isolation and loneliness issues in society, there is growing interest in social initiatives aiming to enhance social connectedness within communities. To make such efforts sustainable, the next step would be to evaluate their effectiveness to develop evidence-based practices. The goal of this project is to build a reliable assessment tool, named Community Cohesion Index (CCI), that measures the social cohesion between and among neighbors.

Daily Question Assessment Methodology: The Development and Validation of Industrial-Organizational Constructs and Methodologies for Business Intelligence Application

Many well-constructed, validated survey instruments in the field of industrial/organizational psychology are lengthy and complex to score and interpret. This is a significant issue as the intent of developing survey instruments is for their translation into industry practice. Short form survey instruments are becoming an increasingly common alternative for collecting data (Fisher, Matthews, & Gibbons, 2015). The objective of this research project is to create efficient survey instruments and methodologies.

CAN-BIND12: Effects of Probiotics on Symptoms of Depression (EPSD)

This study will look at changes in the heart rate variability and electroencephalogram (EEG) signals in individuals receiving gut supplementation for depression. This is to see if the vagus nerve (a major nerve connecting your brain and gut) is affected by this therapeutic, and how that results in changes in your brain. This work will provide insight into the mechanism of action for these supplements and contribute to a great understanding of major depressive disorder and possible avenues for advancement in the realm of gut microbiome targeting MDD treatments.

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