Véronique Bohbot PhD
6875 Boulevard LaSalle
Researcher, Douglas Research Centre
Full Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University
Associate Member, Department of Neurology and Neurosurgery, McGill University
Lecturer, Department of Neuroscience, McGill University
Human spatial memory, navigation and neuralplasticity
Memory & Motion Laboratory: Laboratory of Human Spatial Memory, Navigation and Neuralplasticity.
Véronique Bohbot, PhD, is a memory expert. She uses navigation to study different types of memory that depend on distinct parts of the brain. She discovered that individuals spontaneously use different navigation strategies that differ in terms of brain activity, grey matter, hormones, and genotypes. This is important because the literature suggests that reduced grey matter in one of these brain regions, the hippocampus, is associated with increased risk of several neurological and psychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Véronique Bohbot’s research will help profile the neural activity that occurs in the brain areas that mediate individual navigational strategies, i.e., the hippocampus, caudate nucleus, medial temporal lobe cortices, and frontal cortex. Damage to these brain areas can profoundly hamper navigation, as many individuals continue to use strategies that depend on the damaged structures.
To better understand spatial memory (both visual and auditory), Véronique Bohbot does real-life and virtual navigation tests with healthy volunteers, as well as brain-damaged individuals, and patient populations with epilepsy, leukemia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, diabetes, depression, schizophrenia, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson's disease. Véronique Bohbot and her team also use other approaches, including 3D large screen virtual navigation, eye tracking, functional and structural neuroimaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and neuropsychology.
Over the years, Véronique Bohbot has developed a Spatial Memory Improvement Program designed to specifically stimulate the hippocampus and brain regions that are associated with healthy cognition in people of all ages. She has shown that this program is successful at improving spatial memory, but more importantly, increasing brain activity and grey matter of the hippocampus, potentially reducing the risk of neurological and psychiatric diseases. This training program is currently being tested in patients with memory impairments such as those with Mild Cognitive Impairment at risk for Alzheimer's disease.
The laboratory focuses on the multiple brain areas involved in processing episodic memories (spatio-temporal information) during navigation. The researchers are studying the changes in the brain that occur as a result of performing a spatial memory task. These changes could be visual, auditory, olfactory or proprioceptive.
To detect the changes, the lab uses functional neuroimaging, neuroanatomy, neuropsychology, and genetic and hormonal analyses with people of all ages affected by epilepsy, leukemia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Alzheimer's or Parkinson's.
West, G., Drisdelle, B., *Konishi, K., Jackson, J., Jolicoeur, P., and Bohbot, V.D. (2015). Habitual Action Video Game Playing is Associated with Caudate Nucleus-Dependent Navigational Strategies. Proceedings of the Royal Society - B 282:1808.
Dahmani, L. & Bohbot V.D., (2015) Dissociable contributions of the prefrontal cortex to hippocampus- and caudate nucleus-dependent virtual navigation strategies. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory Jan;117:42-50. PMID 25038426
Ledoux, A.A., Phillips, J.L., Labelle, A., Smith, A., Boyer, P., Bohbot, V.D., (2014) Structural hippocampal anomalies in a schizophrenia population correlate with navigation performance on a wayfinding task. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience 8:88, 1-11. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2014.00088
Bohbot V.D., Del Balso D., Conrad K., Konishi K., and Leyton M. (2013) Caudate nucleus-dependent navigational strategies are associated with increased use of addictive drugs. Hippocampus 23: 973-984.
Konishi, K., *Etchamendy, N., *Roy, S., Marighetto, A., Rajah, M.N., and Bohbot, V.D. (2013) Decreased fMRI activity in the hippocampus in favour of the caudate nucleus in older adults tested in a virtual navigation task. Hippocampus 23: 1005-1014.
Konishi, K., Bohbot, V.D. (2013) Spatial navigational strategies correlate with grey matter in the hippocampus of healthy older adults tested in a virtual maze. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 20;5:1.
Bohbot, V.D., *McKenzie, S., *Konishi, K., *Fouquet, C., *Kurdi, V., Schachar, R., Boivin, M. & Robaey, P. (2012) Virtual navigation strategies from childhood to senescence: evidence for changes across the life span. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience 4: 1-10.
Schwabe, L., Bohbot, V.D., Wolf, O.T., (2012) Prenatal stress changes learning strategies in adulthood. Hippocampus 22: 2136-43.
Bohbot, V.D., *Gupta, M., & *Banner, H., Dahmani, L. (2011) Caudate nucleus-dependent response strategies in a virtual navigation task are associated with lower basal cortisol and impaired episodic memory. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 96: 173-180.
Banner, H., *Bhat, V., *Etchamendy, N., Joober, R., & Bohbot, V.D. (2011) The BDNF val66met polymorphism is associated with reduced fMRI activity in the hippocampus and increased use of caudate nucleus-dependent strategies in a human virtual navigation task. European Journal of Neuroscience 33: 968–977.
Bohbot, V.D., Lerch, J., Thorndycraft, B., Iaria, G. & Zijdenbos, A. (2007) Gray matter differences correlate with spontaneous strategies in a human virtual navigation task. Journal of Neuroscience 27, 10078-10083.
Bohbot, V.D., Iaria, G., Petrides, M. (2004) Hippocampal function and spatial memory: Evidence from functional neuroimaging in healthy participants and performance of patients with medial temporal lobe resections. Neuropsychology 18(3):418-425. [Special Issue on Long-Term Spatial Memory].
Iaria, G., Petrides, M., Dagher, A., Pike, B., and Bohbot, V.D. (2003) Cognitive Strategies Dependent on the Hippocampus and Caudate Nucleus in Human Navigation: Variability and Change with Practice Journal of Neuroscience, 23: 5945-5952.
Bohbot, V.D., Kalina, M., Stepankova, K., Spackova, N., Petrides, and Nadel, L. (1998) Spatial memory deficits in patients with lesions to the right hippocampus and to the right parahippocampal cortex. Neuropsychologia, 36: 1217-1238.
Bohbot, V., Otahal, P., Liu, Z., Nadel, L., and Bures, J. (1996). Electroconvulsive shock and lidocaine reveal rapid consolidation of spatial working memory in the water maze. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 93: 4016-4019
Dr. Véronique Bohbot received her PhD in psychology and cognitive neuroscience in 1997 at the University of Arizona under the direction of recognized experts in the field of memory. Her thesis director, Dr. Lynn Nadel, who wrote the first theory on the role of the hippocampus as a cognitive map in 1978, with co-author and Nobel Laureate in Medicine 2014, Dr. John O’Keefe, had a profound influence on her current research. Subsequently, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Montreal Neurological Institute.
She has received several prestigious awards such as the John R. & Clara M. Fraser Memorial Award, the Evelyn F. Exclusive McKnight Brain Institute Award and the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. In addition, her laboratory has been funded by several grants from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Canada.
Dr. Bohbot is an expert in the field of spatial memory and navigation. She made over 150 scientific presentations on memory at national and international conferences and published over 30 articles. Her research has been featured on television, radio and in more than 50,000 internet sites that report the potential effects of GPS (Global Positioning System) on the brain. She studied spatial memory in individuals of different age groups including children, young adults, and the elderly. She also examined spatial memory in relation to various neurological and psychiatric disorders, such as mild cognitive impairment, Parkinson's disease, diabetes, attention deficit disorder/ hyperactivity disorder and schizophrenia. In the context of the famous Canadian television show “The Nature of Things” by David Suzuki, Dr. Bohbot went to the Canadian Arctic to investigate cultural differences in spatial memory of Inuit hunters.
Dr. Bohbot’s research uses methods with cutting edge technology such as virtual reality, functional neuroimaging, structural neuroimaging, genetics and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Currently, Dr. Bohbot holds an Associate Professor position in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. Her research team is located at the Douglas Mental Health Institute, where she has developed a training program that aims to improve spatial memory targeted to reduce the risk of neurological and psychiatric disorders. It shows that this program not only improves spatial memory, but also the function and the volume of the hippocampus, a brain structure very important for memory. This training program may help patients with memory impairments such as those associated with Alzheimer's disease and mild cognitive impairment. The research of Dr. Bohbot improves healthy cognition at all ages. For this reason, she has received three Knowledge Transfer awards from CIHR and the Molson Foundation, one of these to set up a free public information website called www.vebosolutions.com explaining the benefits of spatial memory for healthy cognition. VeboSolutions.com also describes Dr. Bohbot’s new program on the 4 pillars to healthy cognition and a healthy hippocampus, which has now been used to implement a new 6-week course on healthy cognition called VeboCognition. For more information on this program, please go to: www.vebosolutions.com.
For more information on the Four Pillars of Healthy Cognition: www.vebosolutions.com
Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute Exclusive Award provided by Dr. Carol Barnes, Director. Project Title: Spatial Memory Training and Cognitive Function.
John R. & Clara M. Fraser Memorial Award. Project title: Eye tracking, navigational strategies, fMRI activity and morphology of the hippocampus.
Fonds de la Recherche en Santé du Québec, Bourse de chercheur-boursier « junior 1 ». Project title : Activation cérébrale chez l’homme et la femme en fonction des préférences en navigation.
Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) New Opportunities fund Award. Project title: Establishment of a real and virtual reality laboratory for the study of human navigation.
Postdoctoral Fellowship by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Canada).
John R. & Clara M. Fraser Memorial Award.
Anna Roth Trowbridge
Increased flanker task and forward digit span performance in caudate-nucleus-dependent response strategies. Brain Cogn. 2019;135:103576.
Spontaneous spatial navigation circuitry in schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Psychiatry Res. 2019;278:125-128.
Caudate nucleus-dependent navigation strategies are associated with increased risk-taking and set-shifting behavior. Learn Mem. 2019;26(4):101-108.
Global Determinants of Navigation Ability. Curr Biol. 2018.
Habitual action video game players display increased cortical thickness in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex. Neuroreport. 2018;29(5):393-396.
Healthy versus Entorhinal Cortical Atrophy Identification in Asymptomatic APOE4 Carriers at Risk for Alzheimer's Disease. J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;61(4):1493-1507.
Playing Super Mario 64 increases hippocampal grey matter in older adults. PLoS ONE. 2017;12(12):e0187779.
Hippocampus-dependent spatial learning is associated with higher global cognition among healthy older adults. Neuropsychologia. 2017;106:310-321.
Hippocampal activation and memory performance in schizophrenia depend on strategy use in a virtual maze. Psychiatry Res. 2017;268:1-8.
Morphine Reward Promotes Cue-Sensitive Learning: Implication of Dorsal Striatal CREB Activity. Front Psychiatry. 2017;8:87.
Electrophysiological evidence for enhanced attentional deployment in spatial learners. Exp Brain Res. 2017;235(5):1387-1395.
Low-frequency theta oscillations in the human hippocampus during real-world and virtual navigation. Nat Commun. 2017;8:14415.
APOE2 Is Associated with Spatial Navigational Strategies and Increased Gray Matter in the Hippocampus. Front Hum Neurosci. 2016;10:349.
Modulation of spatial and response strategies by phase of the menstrual cycle in women tested in a virtual navigation task. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2016;70:108-17.
Stop and look! Evidence for a bias towards virtual navigation response strategies in children with ADHD symptoms. Behav Brain Res. 2016;298(Pt A):48-54.
Habitual action video game playing is associated with caudate nucleus-dependent navigational strategies. Proc Biol Sci. 2015;282(1808):20142952.
All roads lead to Rome, even in African savannah elephants--or do they? Proc Biol Sci. 2015;282(1805).
Dissociable contributions of the prefrontal cortex to hippocampus- and caudate nucleus-dependent virtual navigation strategies. Neurobiol Learn Mem. 2015;117:42-50.
Structural hippocampal anomalies in a schizophrenia population correlate with navigation performance on a wayfinding task. Front Behav Neurosci. 2014;8:88.