Our lab is recruiting graduate students for the 2023-24 academic year! Our research in the Medina lab is dedicated to understanding how the mind represents the body. Our work uses a number of different techniques, including functional and structural neuroimaging, brain stimulation (transcranial magnetic stimulation), and behavioral studies. In particular, we are very interested in work with special populations – including studies of brain-damaged individuals and people with various forms of synesthesia.
To understand our research, here are a few blurbs on recent published papers from the lab:
- Using p-curve analyses, we found no evidence that a popular form of brain stimulation (tDCS) influences cognitive processing.
- We discovered a new variant of the mirror-box illusion that makes you feel like your hand is in the opposite posture. We then used this to show how our “body schema” contributes to multisensory integration.
- We found evidence for different subtypes of mirror-touch synesthesia, a condition in which people feel touch on their own bodies when seeing touch on someone else.
- We reported a rare case of multimodal synchiria subsequent to stroke. When seeing a visual stimulus on their ipsilesional side, they perceived visual stimuli on both side – but only when on the hands, and only for brief stimulus durations.
- We discussed how functional neuroimaging with single-case studies of brain-damaged individuals can lead to advances in understanding cognitive processing.
Other papers can be found on the publications page.
Below are a few of the questions our lab is currently working on:
- How does the brain reorganize after stroke? And how does this reorganization relate to behavioral outcomes?
- How does the brain change after amputation?
- How does the brain solve the problem of multisensory integration – specifically with regards to the body?
- What are the limitations of current practices in brain stimulation?
- How can illusions (e.g. the mirror box illusion, rubber hand illusion, etc.) inform us as to how the brain represents the body?
- What is “embodiment”?
- How can individuals with synesthesia (mirror-touch, grapheme-color) inform cognitive models?
Our research is currently funded by both the NSF and NIH. I was recently awarded a $1,000,000 NSF grant to establish a post-baccalaureate BRIDGE program for underrepresented students, providing two years of training focused on data science and society. I previously ran the Summer Undergraduate Workshop in Cognitive and Brain Sciences (stopped due to the pandemic) where we invited 20 undergraduates from across the nation for intensive training in cognitive neuroscience.
Our resources include the Center for Biomedical & Brain Imaging at the University of Delaware, which houses a Siemens Prisma 3T MRI scanner and our new transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) laboratory for brain stimulation. We also have a large population of brain-damaged individuals (>1000) for behavioral testing and neuroimaging. We also have a number of individuals with mirror-touch synesthesia, and grapheme-color synesthesia available for testing.
We are looking for curious, engaged students who have a strong desire to solve problems and use critical thinking to figure out how the brain works. More specifically, applicants should have a strong interest in cognition, attention, perception and/or neuroscience. Research experience is strongly desirable, but not necessary. Students in good standing typically receive financial support for five years, in the form of an RA, TA or fellowship.