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.
Dr. Allison is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab. His research interests involve understanding the physiological mechanisms that contribute to depression, including the potential relationship between skeletal muscle health and mental health. Dr. Allison is testing the potential for a skeletal muscle derived transcription factor to influence inflammatory mediators, glutamate neurotransmission, and hippocampal neurogenesis.
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.
Alexis Bullock is a Master’s student in the lab. She is investigating the neural protective effects of physical activity on brain health in older adults. Alexis is currently examining the association between age-related changes in inflammation and neurotrophic factors on cognition in older adults, and the potential impact of physical activity.
Allison is a Master’s student in the lab. Her research explores the interaction between physical activity and mental health. Allison’s current study examines whether mindfulness qualities moderate the relationship between physical activity and anxiety in student populations.
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.
Ana Kovacevic, MSc
Emily Paolucci, MSc
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