Characterizing how the health of homeless and precariously housed individuals is affected by traumatic brain injury.
The first component of my thesis was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis that summarized findings from all previous studies that have looked at this topic (Stubbs et al. (2019). [Journal Embargo]). We found that more than half of homeless and precariously housed individuals have a history of TBI, and approximately 25% have a history of moderate-to-severe brain injury. We also found that traumatic brain injury is broadly associated with poorer mental and physical health, suicidality, memory concerns, as well as criminal justice system involvement and health service use. This work was featured in the [news organization embargo].
The subsequent components of my thesis will be as part of the prospective longitudinal 'Hotel Study' which follows Vancouver Downtown Eastside residents who are homeless or live in single room occupancy hotel rooms. Hotel Study participants receive monthly and yearly assessments of health, including multimodal MRI scans. Initially I aim to use longitudinal data analysis to integrate >1,000 MRI scans with longitudinal assessments of health from the Hotel Study to evaluate risk factors for brain degeneration. I am specifically interested in modelling how traumatic brain injury interacts with factors such as substance use, and how altered MRI metrics of brain health over time are associated with functional outcomes.
Finally, I plan to use data from the prospective Hotel-TBI Study, where Hotel Study participants are have received ongoing screening for traumatic brain injury since 2017. I plan to use advanced longitudinal analysis techniques to model how incident traumatic brain injury (i.e., new injuries during the study) affect metrics of brain health, and how brain health is related to functional outcomes.
Isolating the type of somatic symptoms experienced by individuals with post-concussion syndrome
In collaboration with the Canadian Traumatic Brain Injury Research Consortium we conducted a small study on the type of somatic symptoms reported by individuals with prolonged post-concussion syndrome (in review).
Evaluating the diagnostic utility of smooth pursuit eye movements in mild traumatic brain injury
In my undergraduate I led a pilot study assessing the performance of using smooth pursuit eye movement as a diagnostic indicator of mild traumatic brain injury (Stubbs et al. 2019. Scientific Reports). We found that integrating a working memory task into a smooth pursuit eye movement task resulted in significantly greater diagnostic utility than smooth pursuit eye movement alone.
Examining how working memory and attention interact with smooth pursuit eye movement
We evaluated how smooth pursuit eye movement is affected by working memory load. We showed that smooth pursuit eye movement variability improves with higher amounts of working memory load in health individuals (Stubbs et al. 2018. Experimental Brain Research).
Characterizing a novel association between prosopagnosia ('face blindness') and amusia ('tone deafness')
Following anecdotal reports from our prosopagnosic participants and amusic participants tested by our collaborators at Harvard Medical School, we formally tested musicality in participants with developmental prosopagnosia (Corrow et al. 2019. Neuropsychologia). We then tested musicality in participants with acquired prosopagnosia, yielding a strikingly similar finding (in review). This work fundamentally shifts our understanding of prosopagnosia from purely a visual disorder to a more broad developmental or connective disorder encompassing multiple perceptual systems.
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