Dr. Derek Fisher
Dr. Fisher received his Master of Science and Doctorate degree in Psychology from Carleton University with a specialization in neuroscience. He currently holds the position of Associate Professor and Department Chair at Mount Saint Vincent University and is an adjunct professor at Acadia, Dalhousie, and Saint Mary’s University.
Dr. Fisher’s research can roughly be divided into two streams: 1) ERP-indexed changes in brain function in mental illness, with an emphasis on schizophrenia and psychosis, and; 2) neuropsychopharmacology, or how drugs alter brain function. In the first of these streams, Dr. Fisher has predominantly examined brain-based deficits across the schizophrenia spectrum using EEG and ERPs and, following the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) framework endorsed by the National Institutes of Health, how individual symptoms and syndromes within psychosis are related to neurophysiological change. While this work initially considered chronic schizophrenia, Dr. Fisher has since established strong research ties with the Nova Scotia Early Psychosis Program (NSEPP) which has yielded several small internal grants through MSVU, the Department of Psychiatry at Dalhousie University and the Nova Scotia Health Authority that have allowed the investigation of changes in early cognitive processing in early psychosis, as well as a current large-scale grant from the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation (now Research NS) that will investigate the utility of ERPs as biomarkers to predict conversion to schizophrenia in high-risk populations.
The second major research arm uses EEG and ERPs to investigate how common drugs influence brain function in healthy control and clinical populations. While this work initially focused on nicotine, Dr. Fisher has shifted his focus to other drugs, such as caffeine. The ELM lab recently completed a funded project investigating the impact of caffeine on ERP-indexed cognition in early phase psychosis and is currently conducting an NSERC Discovery Grant-funded project probing how caffeine may differentially affect brain function in females across different phases of the menstrual cycle.