Mapping the Mind onto the Brain: Implications for Literacy
Dr. Ron Borowsky studies the connections between the mind and the brain. Specifically, Borowsky's interest in connecting the mind to the brain includes such behaviours as language, attention, memory and picture processing.
Dr. Borowsky's research goals entail developing a model of basic reading and picture processing. Recognizing that by 2031 more than 15 million Canadian adults are estimated to have low literacy levels, his research is hoping to identify the behavioural and biological markers of normal reading processes so as to help reverse the trend. In our society, adults with low literacy levels tend to suffer more health problems, have a shorter life expectancy and earn less money. By examining the basic cognitive functions involved in reading and picture processing, as well as looking at what area of the brain is involved in each function, Dr. Borowsky and his team are hoping to provide a framework for assessing and improving literacy skills.
Dr. Borowsky believes the Undergraduate Psychology program is the best in the country due to research; undergraduate students are exposed to hands on projects and statistical analysis. Borowsky says he and his graduate and post-doctoral students are also fortunate at the U of S to be able to work so closely with other departments – particularly the Departments of Medical Imaging, Neurology, and Neurosurgery in the College of Medicine, as well as Royal University Hospital. By being able to collaborate with these other departments, Dr. Borowsky's research has been able to become more in-depth by using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI). Using fMRI has also meant immediate ‘bench-to-bedside' applications to current neurosurgical patients.
With Dr. Borowsky's interest in all things cognitive, his research is being applied to help current patients while his work regarding literacy is helping to create a road map of behavioural and biological markers. His research in reading has been used to diagnose various forms of dyslexia by identifying different reading systems (i.e., a ventral lexical system and a dorsal sub-lexical system).
Dr. Borowsky's research has put the U of S on the map with brain and language studies, drawing international attention. He and his team have been asked to contribute to special issues of journals and conference symposia, allowing Dr. Borowsky to share his research, and his students to gain experience across the globe.