Dr. Chouinard, a speech-language pathologist by training, is currently a post-doc in the ACELab. She studies the neurobiology of social communication in those with and without autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Social communication is the ability to successfully share thoughts, feelings, and ideas with others. For people with ASD, difficulty with social communication is a hallmark impairment. Even for those with ASD who are verbally-fluent and intellectually-able, impaired social communication leads to lifelong difficulties with relationships and employment.
With ACELab, Brea is learning how to use EEG, eye-tracking, and motion capture to investigate social cognition through motion – that is, trying to measure communication that occurs without the use of words and how it relates to word knowledge. Brea also works with Dr. Alona Fyshe (Computing Science | Psychology) using fMRI and computer models of language to uncover and investigate brain-behaviour relationships of language and social communication. In addition to receiving funding from Alberta Innovates – Health Solution and the CIHR – Autism Research Training initiative, Brea is a Killam Scholar and held a prestigious Marie-Curie Fellowship (2016-2018).