Derek Mitchell

D.G. Mitchell

Credentials:

PhD

Affiliations

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Western Ontario
  • Associate Scientist, Lawson Health Research Institute

Biography

Emotional information gains rapid and often preferential access to our brain's processing resources. This "emotional attention" enables us to quickly detect and respond to dangerous or pleasant aspects of our environment. However, dwelling on emotional information can be disruptive or even dangerous. Some situations require calm precision even while being bombarded by emotionally salient cues (e.g., during emergency response). Fortunately, the human brain has also evolved systems that help reprioritize information processing, minimize distraction, and bias our attention towards the most behaviourally relevant information. My research aims to determine how the human brain performs this mental balancing act. In addition to work that concerns fundamental questions about healthy human cognition, we conduct studies involving clinical populations to identify functional brain abnormalities behind difficulties with emotional responding and regulation. Addressing these questions will help elucidate the neuropathology of a range of psychiatric disorders from psychopathy, which features a failure to integrate emotional information, to disorders of mood or anxiety, which feature a failure to manage or modulate emotional responding. Our techniques include the use of neuroimaging (fMRI, MEG) and neuropsychological methods in healthy, neurological, and psychiatric populations.

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