DR. JENNIFER J. HEISZ
Dr. Jennifer J. Heisz is an Assistant Professor in Kinesiology and Associate Director (Seniors) of the Physical Activity Centre of Excellence at McMaster University. She received her PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience (McMaster) and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest. Dr. Heisz directs the NeuroFit Lab which is funded by the Alzheimer Society, Banting Foundation, Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada, and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. She publishes extensively in prominent journals on the neurophysiology of fitness, aging, and cognitive neuroscience. Her current research interests include the effects of exercise on brain function across the lifespan, the physiological mechanisms underlying exercise-cognition interactions, and developing physical activity guideline for the prevention and management of Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Recent honours include receiving an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario Research Coalition.
DR. BARBARA FENESI
Dr. Fenesi is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab. She applies her background in cognitive psychology to better understand factors that promote brain and body health. Specifically, she examines how exercise and cognitive training directly impact our underlying neural machinery. Her goal is to leverage this knowledge and uncover evidence-based strategies that promote memory and learning in a diverse student body, in healthy older adults, and in those diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
Ana Kovacevic is a Master's student in the lab. She is investigating the factors that influence brain health in older adults and those with Alzheimer's disease. Ana is particularly interested in understanding the physiological mechanisms that underlie the link between physical activity and cognitive function. Her current study examines the dose-response relationship between exercise intensity and brain health in older adults.
Emily Paolucci is a Master’s Student in the lab. Her aim is to investigate how exercise can modify various physiological pathways in order to produce improvements in mood. In particular, she is interested in exploring how exercise can effect cortisol and inflammation levels to produce improvements in mental health. Her current study examines how acute physiological responses during exercise training can produce long-term adaptations to improve mood within young adults.
Kristen Lucibello is a Master’s Student in the lab. She is primarily interested in the bidirectional relationship between physiological systems and mental health. In particular, she is investigating how exercise induced changes in neurogenesis and inflammation may effect anxiety. Her current study examines how moderate intensity exercise training can promote physiological changes that may reduce or prevent the progression of anxiety in young adults.
Michelle Ogrodnik is a Master’s student in the lab. She is investigating how exercise breaks during a lecture improve attention and long-term comprehension. Her aim is to define the underlying mechanism behind this relation and expand this understanding to special populations. Her ultimate goal is to create guidelines to implement exercise breaks into applied settings to optimize learning.
Each year, the NeuroFitLab trains dozens of top undergraduate students from across the Faculty of Science including Kinesiology, Psychology, and Biology. Bringing together trainees from distinct disciplines into our open workspace in the lab creates an engaging environment for knowledge transfer and innovative thinking. This rich knowledge foundation is complemented with extensive technical training on multiple methodologies—EEG, cognitive and fitness testing, and biological sample processing— and the use of both traditional and novel analytical procedures for data analysis. Trainees from the NeuroFitLab are equipped with a valuable skill and knowledge set needed to address the challenges of an increasingly sedentary and aging population.
Hanna Fang, MSc
Ilana Clark, MSc
Dr. Jennifer J. Heisz | Assistant Professor | Department of Kinesiology | Ivor Wynne Centre, Room E206 | McMaster University | 1280 Main Street West | Hamilton, Ontario L8S4L8