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GRENFELL MATTERS: Grenfell graduate thankful for support on eve of convocation

Emily Alexander
Emily Alexander - Submitted

On Thursday, I will be one of almost 200 graduates who cross the stage at Grenfell Campus’s convocation ceremonies. I will be receiving a bachelor of science (honours) degree with a major in psychology.

During my undergraduate degree, I was really fortunate to work with Canada Research Chair Dr. Ben Zendel in the Cognitive Aging and Auditory Neuroscience (CAAN) Lab at Grenfell Campus. The CAAN lab provided an incredible opportunity for me to get involved with research, and I was already interested in hearing and neuroimaging, so it was a natural fit. I assisted with some ongoing graduate and medical research in the lab, and then began my honours thesis in the CAAN lab under Dr. Zendel’s supervision.

My honours thesis research is about differences in auditory processing (how the brain processes sound) between formally trained and self-taught musicians. Essentially, my project investigated whether informally trained, self-taught musicians show similar benefits as formally trained musicians compared to non-musicians. I measured auditory processing abilities for formally trained musicians, self-taught musicians, and non-musicians across three tasks: understand speech in noise, detecting a bad note in a melody (music processing), and automatic auditory detection of pitch change (automatic processing) using electroencephalography (EEG).

I am grateful to have the opportunity to present research findings from this study at the Science Atlantic Psychology conference in Halifax May 8-9 and also at the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour, and Cognitive Science conference July 4-7 in St. John’s.

I was incredibly fortunate to have been recruited by every university to which I applied – 5 in total. At Dalhousie University in Halifax, I was nominated for a Pre-doctoral Killam Scholarship, which is an incredibly prestigious scholarship, and it was an honour to be nominated. In the end, however, I accepted a position at the University of Toronto, where I will start my masters in psychology in September. I will be working with Dr. Claude Alain at the Rotman Research Institute (RRI), where he specializes in hearing and is an EEG expert. I’m excited to work at RRI, and about the opportunity to conduct auditory neuroscience research in a world-class hospital research setting, with a wealth of neuroimaging equipment available.

I’m very grateful for all of the support, advice, and encouragement I’ve received from many faculty and staff at Grenfell throughout this entire process, especially from within the psychology department and from my referees.

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