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Brandon Vasquez

Vasquez BTell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from?

I was born and raised in downtown Toronto, but I decided to leave to pursue my Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Guelph, majoring in psychology. Following my interest in cognition and neuropsychology led me to the University of Waterloo where I completed a Master in Behavioural Neuroscience. I now find myself back in Toronto working on my PhD at the University of Toronto, supervised by Nicole Anderson at Baycrest, and I am enjoying being back in my hometown.

What compelled you to pursue stroke research?

I was initially compelled to pursue stroke research through the study of neuropsychology. I found the unique cognitive syndromes that can result from stroke very interesting and it drew me to this general area of research. I then began studying cognitive aging during my PhD and learned how important the cerebrovascular system is for brain health. Stroke research allows me to study cognitive changes that are highly prevalent in a large number of individuals, and opens up important avenues for making discoveries about the brain and behaviour.

What is the focus of your research?

My current research focus comprises two main areas of cognitive neuroscience and their intersection. The first is response time intra-individual variability (RTIIV), which refers to fluctuations in responding across trials on a given task occurring within an individual, and is thought to reflect the integrity of cognitive control processes that mediate sustained attention. I am looking at the relationships that may exist between RTIIV and neuropsychological measures of cognition in healthy aging and cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD). The second focus is cognitive training to ameliorate attentional dysfunction in healthy aging and CSVD. My research is examining the malleability of RTIIV, and whether RTIIV can be used as a target for training to improve attention. I am taking this a step further to contrast this externally mediated training approach with one that is more internally driven, facilitating individuals with CSVD to modulate their attention endogenously at will.

At what stage are you in your research, and what are your current future plans?

I am in the final stage of my PhD career, working to finish up data collection on my remaining projects and writing my dissertation. Upon completion of my research thesis I plan to begin a year-long clinical internship in neuropsychology. My future plans are to become a clinician researcher in the area of cognitive aging with a continued interest in cerebrovascular disease and stroke.

How do you and others benefit from being part of the National Trainee Association?

Being part of the National Trainee Association has benefited me through the support provided by senior mentors and colleagues. It has allowed me to build and maintain relationships with other experts in stroke research, including a recent match with a designated mentor. I have also been fortunate to receive funding from the CPSR to aid the completion and dissemination of my research.

What other interests do you have?

When not conducting research, I consider myself an active person. I enjoy spending time with my wife, my friends, and my cat. I do strength training regularly, but also like to relax on the couch watching a movie or TV show, or playing video games.