Maria Natasha Rajah

Maria Natasha Rajah
 

Office: 
Room 2114, CIC Pavilion

6875 Boulevard Lasalle
Verdun, QC
H4H 1R3



Research area: 
Clinical Research / Human Research

Research Theme: 
Ageing, Cognition and Alzheimer's disease


Director, Douglas Brain Imaging Centre, Douglas Institute Research Centre
Associate Professor, Dept. of Psychology, McGill University



Cognitive Neuroscience of Aging & Memory


My research focuses on conducting behavioral and neuroimaging studies in the cognitive neuroscience of memory, aging and dementia prevention.More specifically, my lab uses structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) methods and univariate and multivariate image analysis to investigate  how specific biological and demographic variables (i.e. biological sex,  genetics, family history of illness, bilingualism,  sex hormones) impact the structural and functional integrity of the neural networks mediating episodic memory function in young, middle-aged and older adults. I also conduct parallel studies in adults at risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease in order to determine if there are pathological changes in brain structure/function in at-risk individuals who are potentially at pre-clinical stages of AD onset.

The goal of my research is to understand:

  •  How does the brain encode and retrieve episodic memories?
  • What regional changes in brain structure & function influence learning and memory across the adult lifespan?
  • How do these changes differ in adults at-risk vs. not at-risk of AD?
  • What compensatory mechanisms are available at midlife and older age to promote optimal memory function across the adult lifespan?

1.    Kwon, D.*, Maillet, D.*, Pasvanis, S., Ankudowich, E., Grady, C. L. & Rajah, M. N.* (2015). Context memory decline in middle aged adults is related to changes in prefrontal cortex function. Cerebral Cortex, doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhv068. *Authors contributed equivalently to the writing of this manuscript.
2.    Rajah, M. N., Maillet, D & Grady, C.L. (2015).  Book Chapter: Episodic Memory in Healthy Older Adults: The Role of Prefrontal and Parietal Cortices. The Wiley Handbook on the Cognitive Neuroscience of Memory. Editors: D. Addis, M. Berense & A. Duarte.
3.    Maillet, D. & Rajah, M. N. (2014). Age-related differences in brain activity in the subsequent memory paradigm: A meta-analysis. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 45, 246-57.
4.    Maillet, D. & Rajah, M. N. (2014). Dissociable roles of default-mode regions during episodic encoding. Neuroimage,  89, 244-255.
5.    Maillet, D. & Rajah, M. N. (2013). Age-related changes in the frequency of mind- wandering and task interferences at encoding and their impact on memory retrieval. Memory, 21 (7), 818 -831.
6.    Maillet, D*. & Rajah, M. N.* (2012). Association between prefrontal activity and volume change in prefrontal and medial temporal lobes in aging and dementia: A review. *Both authors contributed equivalently to the writing of this paper. Invited review for Aging Research Reviews, 12 (2), 479-489.
7.    Maillet, D. and Rajah, M. N. (2011). Reduction in hippocampal-head volume with aging is associated with altered encoding-related activity and impaired context memory performance. Brain Research, 1420, 68-79.
8.    Rajah, M. N., Languay, R.  and Grady C.L. (2011). Age-related changes in right middle frontal gyrus volumes and its impact on retrieval-related activity and retrieval accuracy. Journal of Neuroscience, 31(49), 17941-54.
9.    Crane D, Maillet, D., Floden, D.,Valiquette L. and Rajah, M. N. (2011).  Similarities in the patterns of prefrontal cortex activity during spatial and temporal context memory retrieval after equating for task structure and performance. Neuroimage, 54(2), 1549-64.
10.    Rajah. M. N., Kromas,M., Han J. E.,  Pruessner, J. C., (2010). Group differences in anterior hippocampal volume and in the retrieval of spatial and temporal context memory in healthy young versus older adults. Neuropsychologia, 48(14),4020-30.
11.    Rajah, M. N., Languay, R., and Valiquette, L. (2010) Age-related changes in prefrontal cortex activity are associated with behavioural deficits in both temporal and spatial context memory retrieval in older adults. Cortex, 46, 535-549.
12.    Rajah, M. N., Ames, B. and D’Esposito, M. (2008). Prefrontal contributions to domain-general executive control processes during temporal context retrieval. Neuropsychologia, 46, 1088-1103.
13.    Rajah, M.N. and McIntosh, A. R. (2006). Dissociating prefrontal contributions during a recency memory task.  Neuropsychologia, 44(3):350-64. 
14.    Rajah, M. N., and D’Esposito, M. (2005). Region specific changes in prefrontal function with age: a review of PET and fMRI aging studies on working memory and episodic memory. Brain, 128:1964-83.  
15.    Rajah, M. N. and McIntosh, A. R. (2005).  Overlap in the functional neural systems involved in semantic and episodic memory retrieval. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 17 (3), 470-483.  

 


Dr. M. Natasha Rajah received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Toronto in 2003 and did her post-doctoral training at U.C. Berkeley, 2003-2005. She joined the Douglas Institute in 2005 as Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry. In 2007, she was awarded a prestigious CIHR New Investigator Salary Award and in 2009 she was promoted to Associate Professor. Dr. Rajah's research is focused on the cognitive neuroscience of memory and aging. In 2011 Dr. Rajah was promoted to Director of the Douglas Brain Imaging Centre. Dr. Rajah currently holds a FRQ-S Junior 2 Research Scholar Award.


1. Fonds de Recherche du Québec - Santé (FRQ-S), Junior 2 Salary Award, 2013-2015
2. John R. & Clara M. Fraser Memorial Award, 2012-2013
3. Selected for “Top 50 under 50” by Quebec Science Magazine, 2012
4. Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR), New Investigator Salary Award, 2007-2012
5. Fonds de la Recherche en Santé Québec (FRSQ), Junior 1 Salary Award, 2007-2010
6. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship (PDF), 2002-2004
7. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS B), 2000-2002
8. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Postgraduate Scholarship (PGS A), 1998-2000
9. Travel Award, Organization for Human Brain Mapping, 2000


Graduate Students

  • Elizabeth Ankudovich, Ph.D., Student, IPN Program
  • Lyssa Manning, M.Sc.Student, IPN Program
  • Haoyou Yu, M.Sc., Student, IPN Program
  • Sivaniya Subramaniapillai,  M.Sc. Student, Psychology (Co-supervisor: D. Titone)
  • Abdel Halim Elshiekh, MSc.Rotation Student, IPN Program​

Undergraduate Student

  • Daniel Davies

Research Assistant

Stamatoula Pasvanis (2014-current)

 

Alumni

​​Previous RAs

  • Maria del Pilar Fajardo
  • Angela Potes
  • Luc Valiquette, M.A. (now a Conseil multidisciplinaire at Louis-H. Lafontaine)
  • Rafael Languay (now a Pharmacy student at Université de Montreal)
  • Claire Han (now an IPN graduate student with Jorge Armony)
  • Lauren Crawford (now applying for medical school)
  • Sidney Pinto (now an HR manager)

Previous Students

  • Lesley Wu, Undergraduate Student (now applying to graduate school)
  • David Maillet, Ph.D. (now a Post-doc at Harvard University)
  • Karina Borja, M.Sc. (now Ph.D. student at Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience)
  • Dave Crane, M.Sc. (now a MRI scientist, Sunnybrook Hospital)
  • Renee Gordon, Post-doc (now Medical Writer, New Zealand)
  • Michelle Kromas, Undergraduate Student (now a medical student)
  • Diana Kwon, M.Sc., (now a Scientific Writer, Chicago, USA)
  • Alexander Swierkot, M.Sc.​ (applying for medical school)​
  • Lindsay Wallace, M.Sc. (now Ph.D. student at Dalhousie University)
  • Jackie Lam, Undergraduate Student (applying to graduate school) 
  • ​Hannah Restle, Undergraduate Student (applying for graduate school)
  • Idil Kilinc, Undergraduate Student (applying for clinical psychology programs)

 


Recent Publications

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