Ph.D. [Psychology and Neuroscience] (University of Giessen)
Associate Professor, Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of British Columbia
Research Interestseye movements; eye-hand coordination; perceptual-motor; visual perception
Dr. Miriam Spering is both a neuroscientist and a psychologist. Her research focuses on how the brain uses visual cues to control movement in humans. Part of this research involves looking at various disease models, such as schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, and spinal cord injury (SCI), and their impact on vision and related motor responses. One of the goals of Dr. Spering’s work is to assess whether training can compensate for abnormalities in vision and eye movements in these patients, with the long-term goal of developing rehabilitation tools based around eye movements. Her group also investigates visual perception and eye movements in professional athletes.
At ICORD, Dr. Spering directs the Visual Performance and Oculomotor Mobility Lab. She is a member of the Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, the Djavad Movafaghian Center for Brain Health (DMCBH), and the Institute for Computing, Information and Cognitive Systems (ICICS) at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Spering obtained her B.Sc and M.Sc in Psychology from the Universities of Heidelberg, Konstanz, and Exeter (England). In 2006, she obtained her PhD in Psychology and Neuroscience from the University of Giessen in Germany. She was a post-doctoral fellow at New York University, with funding provided by the German Research Foundation.
Dr. Spering says that her favourite aspect of being a part of ICORD is the collaborative atmosphere. While the primary focus of her research is not centered on SCI, Dr. Spering has begun looking at ways in which her research methods and experience could be applied to SCI. As such, she is presently investigating eye movements in individuals who use wheelchairs.
For some of her major findings, please see the selected papers below, as well as her recent publications listed at the bottom of the page:
- Effects of contrast on smooth pursuit eye movements
- Distractor interference during smooth pursuit eye movements
- Contrast and assimilation in motion perception and smooth pursuit eye movements
- Tracking without perceiving: A dissociation between motion perception and eye movements
- Efference copy failure during smooth pursuit eye movements in schizophrenia
Some of Dr. Spering’s major awards and accomplishments include:
- J.A.F. Stevenson Visiting Professorship of the Canadian Physiological Society (2018)
- Basic Science Research Award (UBC Ophthalmology, 2016)
- Early Career Scholar Award (Peter Wall Insitute for Advanced Studies, 2012-2013)
- German Research Foundation (DFG, 2008-2010)
- Klaus Tschira Award for Achievements in Public Understanding of Science, Neuroscience category (2007)
Current Lab Members
|Ph.D. Students||Post-Doctoral Fellows||Medical Students|
|Jolande Fooken||Anouk de Brouwer||Matthew Madsen|
|Xiuyun Wu||Doris Chow|
|2017||Austin Rothwell||Wesbrook Scholarship & John H. Mitchell Memorial Scholarship (UBC)|
|2016||Austin Rothwell||Go Global (UBC)|
|2016||Philipp Kreyenmeier||Conference travel award and study abroad (German Academic National Foundation)|
|2016||Jolande Fooken||Student Travel Award (Vision Sciences Society)|
|2016||Austin Rothwell||Undergraduate Student Research Award (NSERC)|
|2015||Sumeet Mutti||Undergraduate Student Research Award (NSERC)|
|2014||Kathryn Lalonde||Master’s Award (NSERC)|
|2014||Jeffrey Wang||Summer Student Research Program Award (UBC Faculty of Medicine)|
Current Opportunities In the Lab
Please see Dr. Spering’s webpage here for more information on her research, group, and current opportunities.
- Fooken, J, Patel, P, Jones, CB, McKeown, MJ, Spering, M. 2021. Preservation of eye movements in Parkinson's disease is stimulus and task specific.. J Neurosci. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1690-21.2021.
- Hodges, NJ et al.. 2021. Topical Review: Perceptual-cognitive Skills, Methods, and Skill-based Comparisons in Interceptive Sports.. Optom Vis Sci. doi: 10.1097/OPX.0000000000001727.
- Fooken, J, Kreyenmeier, P, Spering, M. 2021. The role of eye movements in manual interception: A mini-review.. Vision Res. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2021.02.007.
- Chow, HM, Knöll, J, Madsen, M, Spering, M. 2021. Look where you go: Characterizing eye movements toward optic flow.. J Vis. doi: 10.1167/jov.21.3.19.
- Wu, X, Rothwell, AC, Spering, M, Montagnini, A. 2021. Expectations about motion direction affect perception and anticipatory smooth pursuit differently.. J Neurophysiol. doi: 10.1152/jn.00630.2020.