We are a multicultural lab composed of personnel at all stages of research training.
DR RUTSUKO ITO
Associate Professor, Principal Investigator
My love of neuroscience research began at the University of Oxford while I was completing my BA degree in Physiological Sciences. Subsequently, I obtained my PhD from the University of Cambridge, in which I examined the neural and neurochemical basis of cue-driven cocaine-seeking behaviour. After staying in the same lab for a post-doctoral fellowship to investigate the functions of the limbic-striatal system in reward cue and context learning, I moved back to Oxford University as a Wellcome Trust Research Career Development Fellow to start my independent research program. In 2011, I took up a faculty position at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Outside of work, I love spending time with my family and friends, playing the piano, swimming, eating, cooking and traveling.
DR SANDEEP DHAWAN
Following a BA in Psychology at York University, my passion for neuroscience led me to Scotland where I completed an M.Res and a PhD at the University of St Andrews. Working with Prof. Verity Brown, I explored the role of the rodent subthalamic nucleus in executive functioning – particularly how this region mediates the formation of ‘attentional set’. I am interested in both the learning and memory processes exercised during ‘problem solving’, and I am currently investigating the contribution of the rodent medial temporal lobe to approach-avoidance decision making as a member of both the Ito-LiMBiC (Dr Rutsuko Ito) and Lee-MTL (Dr Andy Lee) labs. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling to new places, reading about astronomy, and playing guitar, hockey, and video games.
Dr YUAN FANG ZHAO
I completed my PhD under the supervision of Prof. Jia Liu at Beijing Normal University, China. My research focuses on the contributions of medial temporal structures to approach-avoidance conflict processing (working across the Lee MTL and Ito LiMBic Labs), as well as perception. I am also interested in statistical approaches to the analysis of functional neuroimaging data. In my spare time I enjoy cooking, swimming, hiking and visiting museums with my wife.
I received my BSc in Life Sciences from Queen’s University, and I am currently pursuing my MS in Dr. Ito’s lab. My current research explores the functional connectivity between the CA1 subfield of the ventral hippocampus and the nucleus accumbens. Specifically, the pathway’s involvement in decision making under an approach avoidance conflict. This is done by combining the use of behavioural paradigms with dual viral vector chemogenetics, a technique that combines genetic and pharmacological methods to control neural circuits with a high degree of spatial precision. In my spare time, I enjoy rock climbing, playing video games and cuddling with the rats when no one is looking!
Dr DAVID NGUYEN
Following the completion of my BA in psychology at Oakland University in Michigan, United States, I joined the labs of Drs Ito and Suzanne Erb to begin my graduate training in behavioral neuroscience research. Currently, I am investigating dopaminergic circuitries and their contributions to both positive and negative incentive motivational processes, and how they are further implicated in disorders of dopamine dysregulation, such as addiction pathology. In my spare time, I enjoy reading science fiction, playing video games, attending concerts, and traveling to new places.
I received my B.Sc. in Psychology from Concordia University, with a specialization in Behavioural Neuroscience. I am currently pursuing my M.A. in Dr. Ito’s lab. I am broadly interested in memory and motivation, and am currently focussed on the question of how valence is represented and processed in the brain; that is, how specific brain structures assign positive and negative values to stimuli, and where these values are integrated in decision-making. I am also interested in how imbalances in these systems may contribute to conditions such as drug addiction, schizophrenia and fear disorders. Besides brains, my favourite things include cooking, cheese, comedy, consciousness and being a crazy cat lady.
I completed my BA and MA in psychology at Koc University in Istanbul. During my MA, I studied optimal behavior in temporal and numerical decision making task with humans and mice under the supervision of Dr. Fuat Balci. I am currently investigating decision making under approach avoidance conflict using novel operant paradigms in Ito Lab. I am hoping to use the information gained from these novel paradigms for explaining problematic decision making processes in disorders such as drug addiction and anxiety and elucidate the brain pathways behind them. In my spare time I enjoy reading about history, politics, science fiction and spending time with friends.
I completed my B.Sc. (Neuroscience specialist) and MA (Psychology, with a specialization in behavioural neuroscience) at the University of Toronto, and am currently pursuing a PhD at the Ito Lab. I first joined lab as an undergraduate thesis student, interested in examining the role of the hippocampus in contextual memory processing. My undergraduate research experience helped me realize my passion for behavioural neuroscience research and paved the way for my graduate career at the Ito lab. Currently, I am investigating the role of the medial prefrontal cortex in contextual memory processing and, more broadly, I am interested in investigating and elucidating the neural circuitry underlying contextual versus cue memory processing. Besides research, I enjoy teaching, spending time with my cat, family and friends, watching movies, and being organized.
I am PhD student co-supervised by Drs Ito and Andy Lee. I completed my BA in Psychology at the University of British Columbia, under the supervision of Dr Stan Floresco. My current research involves looking at how the hippocampus processes and resolves approach-avoidance conflicts in animals and humans. Outside of the lab I enjoy reading about science and history, cooking, and exploring the city!
I rWhile attempting a double major in Russian and Psychology at Carleton College in beautiful Northfield, MN, I landed in Dr. Sarah Meerts’ lab studying female rat mating behaviour, and thus my interest in neuroscience was born. After working a couple lab tech jobs following completion of my degree, I am very happy to be with Dr. Ito at the University of Toronto, where I am excited to combine her interest in approach-avoidance conflict with my interest in providing alcohol to underage rats. Outside the lab, I can usually be found playing chess, frisbee, or soccer. Or cooking and eating. Inside the lab, I can usually be found alone early in the morning drinking lots of coffee while everyone else is still asleep.
Hobbies: Reading and Drawing
Hobbies: Hiking and Community Involvement
Hobbies: Snowboard, Baseball & Bartending
Hobbies: Cooking, baking, walking my dog, and going to the gym
Hobbies: Cooking & Painting
Hobbies: Traveling & Fishing
Anja Hayen (MSc)
George Wallis (MSc)
Katya Vlassov (MSc)
Edgor Cole Tolledo
Gabriel Carvalho Rodrigues