Dr. Rosanna Olsen
Scientist, Rotman Research Institute
I am interested in understanding how our brains support the ability to create new memories and remember our past. I also study how the brain changes with age, due to brain atrophy, and how this brain atrophy relates to declines in memory. My research uses high-resolution structural and functional neuroimaging, as well as eye movement monitoring, to investigate memory formation, retention, and retrieval. I have helped develop specialized, reliable and valid tools for regional brain measurements. Some of this work has examined the structural brain changes that occur in older adults who are exhibiting early (i.e. pre-dementia) signs of cognitive decline. We are currently conducting longitudinal studies, which study the same people over a period of five years, to better define the brain changes that occur with typical aging in contrast to brain changes in those who develop dementia. This work also aims to determine if the changes in these brain regions can also be detected using simpler, more cost-effective screening tools, which ultimately could be used in more widespread settings (e.g. rural and suburban areas), when neuroimaging is not available. Altogether, my research program will help inform, update, and refine current theories of aging and human memory function.