The Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI) is pleased to welcome Simon Thibault, PhD, to our team of talented scientists. During his time at MRRI, Dr. Thibault will be working under the mentorship of Institute Scientist Aaron Wong, PhD, and Associate Director Laurel Buxbaum, PsyD.
Dr. Thibault was awarded his bachelor and master’s degrees in Human Movement and Sports Sciences from the University of Nantes. During his early scientific training, his research examined the neural control of movement and how the processes involved in action may impact cognition. Before beginning work at MRRI, Dr. Thibault completed his PhD in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Lyon in France. In his dissertation research, he investigated how tool use relates to different cognitive functions, such as language.
Specifically, Dr. Thibault’s recent work has demonstrated that the ability to process complex syntactic structures in language and the ability to use a tool are linked, such that training one ability improves the other ability. Further, in a study recently submitted for peer review, Dr. Thibault demonstrated the presence of shared neural bases between tool use and semantics (but not phonological processing).
Dr. Thibault brings expertise in functional neuroimaging and behavioral research methods to his new position at MRRI. Over the next few years, he plans to continue developing his research program to better understand the neurocognitive mechanisms supporting the use of tools and how tool use relates to other cognitive functions, including language. In particular, Dr. Thibault will leverage MRRI’s exceptional training environment and Research Registry to begin working with individuals with damage to particular areas of the brain following stroke, notably to understand what factors may make the use of tools difficult for these individuals.
Dr. Thibault’s long-term research goals are to understand how humans learn to use tools, how the brain is reshaped during this learning process, and how this may be leveraged to benefit other cognitive functions such as language in people with or without neural damage such as stroke.