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Cognitive and Occupational Performance Laboratory

General Laboratory Description

Dr. Foster directs the Cognitive and Occupational Performance Laboratory, which generates knowledge to guide the development of more effective and comprehensive rehabilitation programs for individuals with Parkinson disease or other neurodegenerative disorders and cognitive dysfunction. Rigorous translational approaches are used to understand functional cognition, occupational performance and participation in these conditions and to develop and test complex behavioral interventions to support them. The lab has collaborations that capitalize on its expertise related to cognition, Parkinson disease and occupational performance and is involved in the program development and evaluation efforts of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association.

General Description of Student Activities

Students will have the opportunity to participate in lab activities such as literature reviews, study management, data collection, entry and analysis, scientific writing and presenting, and interacting with and testing study participants. They will work with individuals with neurological disorders and their families, other scientists and clinicians (neurologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, neuroscientists), and community organizations such as the St. Louis Chapter of the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA). They will develop an understanding of the effects of neurodegenerative disorders on occupational performance and participation and investigate evidence-based intervention approaches to address them. The primary focus of many of Dr. Foster’s studies is cognition in Parkinson disease, but it is possible for student projects to investigate other topics and populations. Time requirements are in line with the Program in Occupational Therapy expectations.

Examples of Projects

  • Metacognitive strategy training for people with Parkinson disease
  • Prospective memory in Parkinson disease and older adults with HIV (in collaboration with Beau Ances, MD, PhD)
  • Developing a self-management program for people with Parkinson disease
  • Building an OT clinical program for Parkinson disease and Huntington’s disease
  • Investigations of dementia in Parkinson disease (in collaboration with Joel Perlmutter, MD)
  • Effect of exercise- and/or mindfulness-based stress reduction on functional cognition among older adults (in collaboration with Eric Lenze, MD)
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