Director, Melvyn Goodale
Why I Became a Scientist
I got into research entirely by accident.
After finishing my undergraduate degree at the University of Alberta (in Calgary), I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do -- and so, like a lot of students, I postponed making any decisions at all and went off to Europe to ‘find myself’. After a year or so of traveling around taking one casual job after another and living in damp apartments with dubious roommates, I decided that perhaps it was time to consider going into graduate school back in Calgary. I had the good fortune to end up working in the lab that was studying how the brain decodes the complex array of information provided by the eyes. I was completely captivated – and I have never looked back.
My research is aimed at understanding the functional organization of visual pathways in the human brain. To do this, I study visual discrimination and the visual control of skilled movements in neurological patients with damage to different visual areas in the brain. I also use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to look at activity in the healthy human brain as it performs different kinds of visual tasks. This work has led me to the idea that there are separate, but interacting visual systems for the perception of objects on the one hand and the control of actions directed at those objects on the other – with each system engaging quite different pathways in the human brain. Nevertheless, there is a complex but seamless interaction between the two visual pathways in the production of everyday behaviour.
The Brain and Mind Institute provides a centralized and visible presence for cognitive neuroscience at Western. Its primary function is the promotion of research, the training of highly qualified personnel, and the fostering of national and international collaborations in cognitive neuroscience.
If you have questions about the Insititute or for Dr. Goodale, please contact:
Melvyn A. Goodale
Distinguished University Professor
Canada Research Chair in Visual Neuroscience
Director, The Brain and Mind Institute