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Dr. Jason Gallivan

Dr. Jason Gallivan

Position: Assistant Professor
Current Institution: Queen's University
Department(s): Psychology and Centre for Neuroscience Studies

Previous Degrees: BSc in Honours Biology, MSc and PhD in Neuroscience at Western University
Supervisor: Dr. Jody Culham
Mentor: Dr. Mel Goodale

  • Western

  • Research

  • Publications

Experience at Western

I have always been fascinated by the apparent ease with which our mental events, both conscious and non-conscious, are able to generate a seemingly infinite, sophisticated array of goal-directed behaviours. The human brain, despite weighing a mere 3 pounds, is by far and away the most complex system we have to yet to encounter and unravelling its organization and neural codes of communication is, in my view, one of the most important enterprises of modern science. It is this interest that led me to pursue graduate studies in Cognitive Neuroscience at Western, one of the premiere institutions in the world for this particular area of research.

The training environment and research infrastructure at Western is world-class and, in my experience, is fully recognized as such by other leading institutions. During my graduate years at Western, I had the opportunity to work alongside and collaborate with several terrific faculty members and graduate students, and received exposure to several different areas of research. I believe that my training at Western has well-equipped me with the skill-sets, tools and knowledge base necessary for a successful career in research. 

Research Area

Generally speaking, my work adopts a multi-disciplinary cognitive and systems neuroscience approach to explore the brain mechanisms that support the processes of perception and action. In particular, my research uses functional MRI, brain stimulation techniques, behavioural psychophysics and computational analysis tools to examine how intentions and decisions related to action are represented in human cortex—the types of high-level cognitive processes that lay directly at the interface of sensory- and motor-related processing. To investigate these mechanisms, my work studies the planning of arm, hand and eye movements during object-oriented tasks such as reaching and object manipulation—the simple sets of actions that form the building blocks of a more complex repertoire of everyday human goal-directed behaviours. 

Professional and Personal Accomplishments

I have been supported by a number of awards, most notably a postgraduate doctoral award from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and, more recently at Queen’s, by both Banting and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) postdoctoral fellowship awards. I am also a three-time recipient of the CIHR Brain-Star award. 

Future Aspirations

My professional goal is to be a top-tier researcher, successful advisor and mentor to my trainees and students, and considered a valuable contributor and collaborator by my colleagues. A Nobel prize would be nice too, but perhaps that ambition is too lofty.

Recent Publications

1. Lowe, M.X., Gallivan, J.P., Ferber, S., and Cant, J.S. (in press) Feature diagnosticity and task context shape activity in human scene-selective cortex. Neuroimage.

2. Gallivan, J.P., Barton, K., Chapman, C.S., Wolpert, D.M., & Flanagan, J.R. (2015) Action plan co-optimization reveals the parallel encoding of competing reach movements. Nature Communications. 6: 7428. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8428.

3. Hutchison, R.M., Culham, J.C., Flanagan, J.R., Everling, S., & Gallivan, J.P. (2015) Functional subdivisions of medial parieto-occipital cortex in humans and nonhuman primates using resting state fMRI. Neuroimage. 116: 10-29.

4. Chapman, C.S., Gallivan, J.P., Wong, J.W., Wispinksi, N.J. & Enns, J. (2015) The snooze of lose: Rapid reaching reveals that losses are processed more slowly than gains. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

5. Gallivan, J.P. & Culham, J.C. (2015) Neural coding within human brain areas involved in actions. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 33:141-149 [Invited Review]

6. Gallivan, J.P., Johnsrude, I.S. & Flanagan, J.R. (2015) Planning ahead: Object-directed sequential actions decoded from human frontoparietal and occipitotemporal networks. Cerebral Cortex. DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhu302.

7. Chapman, C.S., Gallivan, J.P., & Enns, J.T. (2015) Separating value from selection frequency in rapid reaching biases to visual targets. Visual Cognition. DOI:10.1080/13506285.2014.976604.