Welcome to the Szwed lab's official web page
Our research focuses on change in the brain in its both positive and negative aspects.
The positive change that we study is the plasticity that occurs when the brain is reorganized in individuals who are blind or deaf. It is a process where a part of the brain, for example the visual cortex, is either rewired to perform an old task, such as reading, with a new sense, such as touch, or rewired to perform a new task, like language or memory. Deaf and blind people have lost critical sensory input and this has profoundly altered the way their brains work. By studying them, we can understand the forces that shape the brain.
The negative change that we study is the detrimental impact of air pollution on brain development. The hypothesis I am pursuing is that air pollution disrupts that development. The natural process of sorting neural connections and strengthening them is perturbed. As a result, children exposed to air pollution experience behavioral problems, in particular, problems with cognitive control. This multidisciplinary line of research combines MRI neuroimaging with environmental epidemiology and air pollution modelling, and its overarching goal is to apply neuroimaging to the environmental and public health problems that our societies are facing today.