Are bilinguals really smarter?

Up until the 1970s, most educators believed that learning two languages at once would confuse children and slow their cognitive growth. But science disagreed with these convictions, said York University psychology Professor Ellen Bialystok in Scienceline July 29. The advent of neuroimaging technology (specifically the CAT scan) in the 1970s granted scientists a new way to investigate how different brains process language. But the emerging evidence wasn’t the only reason bilinguals seemed smarter; Americans’ changing attitudes played a big part, Bialystok said. Read full story.

Grad psychology students take first and second spot for neuroscience award

It was a banner day for York’s Graduate Psychology Program with two students receiving the top prize and runner-up, respectively, for a prestigious graduate student neuroscience award.

Sabrina Lemire-Rodger, a second year master’s student in clinical psychology in York’s Department of Psychology, Faculty of Health, won the Donald O. Hebb Graduate Student Award for best poster among more than 200 posters that were presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science (CSBBCS) that took place July 3 to 5 in Toronto at Ryerson University.

Sabrina Lemire-Rodger

Sabrina Lemire-Rodger

Her poster was entitled “Dissociating the Neural Correlates of Executive Control” and showcased her work on higher order cognition, also known as “executive functioning” in the brain that controls cognitive abilities such as memory, flexible thinking and maintaining self-control. Lemire-Rodger analyzed data that was collected on York’s state-of-the-art MRI scanner.

The CSBBCS is a key organization for the promotion and support of experimental psychology and behavioural neuroscience in Canada. The society advances research concerning brain, behaviour, and cognitive science in Canada, according to the highest standards of scientific inquiry and promotes and fosters the education and training of students in these scientific disciplines.

In his congratulatory letter to Lemire-Rodger, CSBBCS President Jean Saint-Aubin wrote: “Your work reflects the high quality of research currently being carried out by Canadian students. We are very proud of you.” The award includes a cheque for $500, a plaque and free membership in the society for one year.

“It was very exciting and an honour to receive this award,” said Lemire-Rodger. “It’s also very gratifying to have such interest and recognition from our peers for the research currently taking place in our lab.”

Galina Goren

Galina Goren

“Sabrina’s work represents an important contribution to our understanding of how complex cognition, skills for everyday tasks like planning and decision-making, are implemented in the brain,” said Gary Turner, York psychology professor and Lemire-Rodger’s supervisor. “Sabrina has done a wonderful job in designing the study, analyzing the data and showcasing the findings. This award is well deserved and truly reflects the leading-edge neuroscience and neuroimaging research that is happening here at York.”

Galina Goren, a first year psychology master’s student in brain, behaviour and cognitive sciences at York, under supervisor James Elder, was Runner-up for the 2014 Hebb Award for her poster “Visual Distortions Induced by Simple and Complex Shapes.”

Goren’s impressive showing follows her success last year in which she won the 2013 Best Poster Award for her entry “Shape-Induced Distortions of Spatial Judgements” at the international Vision Sciences Society meetings.

Field named head coach of York tennis program

University Sport & Recreation announced Wednesday that Chris Field has been named the head coach of the Lions tennis program.

Chris Field

Chris Field

Field comes to York with a wealth of coaching and playing experience. He is currently the head tennis professional for the Moore Park Tennis Club and Toronto Tennis City, and he previously held an eight-year tenure in the same role with the Davisville Tennis Club. He has also developed multiple interclub league champions, players and programs for the Fitness Institute, Mayfair Lakeshore and Kew Gardens tennis club as head pro.

“Chris is exactly the type of coach we wanted to lead our tennis program and we are extremely excited to have him join our Lions coaching family,” said Gillian McCullough, manager of interuniversity sport. “His experience, passion and leadership skills are a great fit to lead our team and our student-athletes to greater success.”

As a player, Field was ranked nationally both in Canada and the United States. He was the captain of the varsity tennis team at St. Thomas University in Miami in his senior year and, after graduating with a business degree in sport administration, he travelled and taught tennis throughout Toronto, the U.S. and Australia.

He has an extensive background as a junior program director and high performance coach in South Florida, and he has a first-class perspective on competitive players reaching their full potential. He is one of only a few tennis coaches in Canada to be a certified international professional (PTR) and a certified USTPA professional.

“I can’t wait to get started with the Lions,” said Field. “Understanding the value of each student’s time, ability and desire to improve is clear to me, and I believe I can bring a lot to the program. I love to coach tennis, connect with my students and encourage players to strive for their personal best, and I am looking forward to working with the student-athletes here at York.”

The tennis team will begin play for the 2014 season on Friday, Sept. 12, in a match against McGill. The Lions will compete throughout the fall as they prepare for the OUA championships, which will take place in London, Ont., Oct. 10 to 12.

Lack of cardiac rehab programs a global issue, says prof

Rehabilitation programs must become an integral part of cardiac care to significantly reduce the burden of living with heart disease, one of the most common chronic diseases and causes of death globally, according to York University Professor Sherry Grace.

Sherry Grace

Sherry Grace

“Cardiac rehabilitation is a cost-effective program offering heart patients exercise, education and risk reduction,” says Grace. Participation results in 25 per cent less death, lower re-hospitalization rates and better quality of life, she adds.

Despite these benefits, cardiac rehabilitation is vastly underused, particularly compared with costly revascularization and medical therapy, according to a review Grace conducted with Karam Turk-Adawi in the Cardiovascular Rehabilitation & Prevention Unit, University Health Network (UHN), and Dr. Nizal Sarrafzadegan, director of Isfahan Cardiovascular Research Center at Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran.

“Cardiac rehabilitation services are insufficiently implemented, with only 39 per cent of countries providing any,” says Grace of the School of Kinesiology and Health Science in the Faculty of Health.

Heart disease has become an epidemic in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and cardiac rehab can reduce the socio-economic impact of the disease by promoting return to work and reducing premature mortality.

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