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Dr. Derek Fisher

Associate Professor

Office: Evaristus 427

Email (preferred mode of contact):

Office Phone: 902.457.5503


Adjunct Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Dalhousie University

Affiliated Scientist, Department of Psychiatry, Nova Scotia Health Authority 

Adjunct Professor, Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, Dalhousie University*

                *Eligible to supervise graduate students



B.Sc. (Honours) in Psychology, University of Ottawa

M.Sc. in Psychology (Specialization in Neuroscience), Carleton University

Ph.D. in Psychology (Specialization in Neuroscience), Carleton University



Early Career Award - EEG & Clinical Neuroscience Society. Presented at the 2015 Joint Meeting of ECNS, ISNIP, ISBET held in Munich, DE


Journal Activities

I am an Associate Editor for Clinical EEG & Neuroscience

I am a reviewer for the following journals: Biological Psychiatry; Biological Psychology; BMC Psychiatry; BMJ Case Reports; Brain Research; Clinical EEG & Neuroscience; Cognitive Neuropsychiatry; Drug & Alcohol Dependence; European Psychiatry; Neural Computing & Applications; Neuropsychiatric Disease & Treatment; Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews; Psychiatry Research; Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging; Psychopharmacology; Schizophrenia Research


Research Interests

My research program uses brain-derived event-related potentials (ERPs) to investigate questions within the fields of cognitive and clinical neuroscience. ERPs provide an extremely sensitive method of indexing cognition that can both complement and clarify behavioural observations. The ERP waveform is elicited in response to a specific stimulus, such as tones or light flashes, or cognitive events, such as recognition, decision making or response to specific stimuli events. Specifically, ERPs represent an average of the neural activity that follows the onset of a stimulus. When recorded concurrently with behavioural measures of task performance, ERPs provide a fuller picture of the cognitive features underlying different arousal, mood and psychiatric states.  The primary advantage of ERPs resides in the fact that one can probe aspects of information processing without requiring any active, overt response on the part of the subject, thus making them ideal in the cognitive study of some psychiatric populations, which may be unable to perform behavioural tasks due to cognitive and/or motor deficits. Furthermore, ERPs provide a temporal resolution far superior to some of the more sophisticated imaging techniques (i.e. PET, fMRI), making this methodology far more suitable for capturing instantaneous changes in information processes.


Using ERPs, my research has tended to focus on two main areas, with some overlap. The first area of focus is how auditory hallucinations (AH) impact early information processing within schizophrenia. Currently, we are collaborating with the Nova Scotia Early Psychosis Program to investigate whether AH-related alterations in pre-conscious auditory change detection processes are present early in the illness progression. This project is funded by the Dalhousie Psychiatry Research Fund. The other major area of research investigates how common drugs, such as nicotine, work to alter various aspects of brain function. Beyond these two main research questions, I have been involved in projects using EEG and ERPs to investigate clinical disorders such as depression, anxiety disorders, dysfunctional anger, and pedophilia.


Select Refereed Publications

  • Fisher, D.J., Smith, D., Labelle, A., Knott, V.J. (2014). Attenuation of mismatch negativity (MMN) and novelty P300 in schizophrenia patients with auditory hallucinations experiencing acute exacerbation of illness. Biological Psychology, 100, 43-49. doi:10.1016/j.biopsycho.2014.05.005
  • Fisher, D.J., Knobelsdorf, A., Jaworska, N., Daniels, R., Knott, V.J. (2013). Effects of nicotine on electroencephalographic (EEG) and behavioural measures of working memory in non-smokers during a dual-task paradigm. Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, 103, 494-500. doi:10.1016/j.pbb.2012.09.014
  • Fisher, D.J., Labelle, A., Knott, V.J. (2012). Alterations of mismatch negativity (MMN) in schizophrenia patients with auditory hallucinations experiencing acute exacerbation of illness. Schizophrenia Research, 139, 237-245. doi:10.1016/j.schres.2012.06.004
  • Fisher, D.J., Grant, B., Smith, D., Borracci, G., Labelle, A., Knott, V. (2012). Nicotine and the hallucinating brain: Effects on mismatch negativity (MMN) in schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research, 196, 81-87.doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2012.01.026
  • Fisher, D.J., Daniels, R., Jaworska, N., Knobelsdorf, A., Knott, V.J. (2012). Effects of acute nicotine administration on resting EEG in non-smokers. Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 20, 71-75. doi:10.1037/a0025221
  • Ford, J.M., Dierks, T., Fisher, D.J., Herrmann, C.S., Hubl, D., Kindler, J., Koenig, T., Mathalon, D.H., Spencer, K.W., Strik, W., van Lutterveld, R. (2012). Neurophysiological studies of auditory verbal hallucinations. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 38, 715-723.doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbs009
  • Fisher, D.J., Grant, B., Smith, D., Borracci, G., Labelle, A., Knott, V. (2011). Effects of auditory hallucinations on the mismatch negativity (MMN) in schizophrenia as measured by a modified ‘optimal’ multi-feature paradigm. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 81, 245-251.doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2011.06.018
  • Fisher, D.J., Labelle, A., Knott, V.J. (2010). Auditory hallucinations and the P3a: Attention switching to speech in schizophrenia. Biological Psychology, 85, 417-423. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2010.09.003
  • Fisher, D.J., Scott, T.L., Shah, D.K., Prise, S., Thompson, M., Knott, V.J. (2010). Light up and see: Enhancement of the visual mismatch negativity (vMMN) by nicotine. Brain Research, 1313, 162-171. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2009.12.002
  • Fisher, D.J., Labelle, A., & Knott, V.J. (2008). The right profile: Mismatch negativity in schizophrenia with and without auditory hallucinations as measured by a multi-feature paradigm. Clinical Neurophysiology, 119, 909-921.doi: 10.1016/j.clinph.2007.12.005



 A brief overview of my work on auditory hallucinations in schizophrenia recorded at MSVU Research Remixed 2012 (starts at 16:58)