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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Lisa Aziz-Zadeh PhD

Lisa Aziz-Zadeh PhD

Associate Professor, joint appointment with the Department of Psychology at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

MC 2520
(323) 441-2970
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Web: dornsife.usc.edu/labs/az

Lisa Aziz-Zadeh is an associate professor at the Brain and Creativity Institute, the Department of Psychology, and the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy at the University of Southern California (USC). She is the director of the USC Center for the Neuroscience of Embodied Cognition. Her research center utilizes behavioral and neuroimaging methodology (MRI, fMRI, DWI) to better understand how rudimentary sensorimotor systems in the brain may underlie higher cognitive processing, such as language, social cognition, empathy, and creativity. Her current research also includes understanding how the gut-brain axis modulates behavior. This research includes both neurotypical populations as well as those with autism spectrum disorder, developmental coordination disorder, stroke, and other acquired and developmental neural differences. She has published numerous articles in high impact journals and her work has been supported by institutes such as the National Institute of Health, the Department of Defense, the American Heart Association, the Dana Foundation, and other institutes.

dornsife.usc.edu/labs/az
dornsife.usc.edu/bci/brain-and-action-program

Current projects include:

From Sensory-Motor to Social in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Children with ASD often have both motor and sensory deficits in addition to the social deficits that are the hallmark of the disorder. However, the neurological basis of how those sensorimotor deficits relate to the core social deficits is poorly understood. Here we compare motor deficits in ASD to motor deficits in Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Similarly, we compare sensory deficits in ASD to sensory deficits in Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). In this way, we hope to better understand the relationship between sensory-motor processing to social deficits in ASD. This work is supported by an NIH R01 grant.

Relationship between the Gut Microbiome, the Brain, and Behavior
The gut has three times more neurons than the spinal cord, and most of those connections send information from the gut to the brain. Much of the signaling in the gut comes from metabolites produced by the gut microbiome. However the relationship between the gut microbiome, the brain, and behavior is poorly understood. Here we try to better understand this relationship in both typically developing individuals as well as individuals with ASD. This work is supported by a grant from the Department of Defense.

Embodied Semantics and communication
Most of our metaphors are embodied: we “handle” situations; we “kick-off” a new year; we “chew over” decisions. Using fMRI and behavioral studies we explore how language processing involves sensorimotor brain representations. We investigate both literal and metaphorical language. This work has been funded by IARPA and NIH.

The mirror neuron system post-stroke
How might we use our knowledge of the mirror neuron system to help motor recovery post-stroke? In a series of studies funded by the NIH, the American Heart Association, and the Dana Foundation, we explore how the mirror neuron system may be utilized for stroke neurorehabilitation. These studies use MRI, fMRI and behavioral data.

Education

Selected Publications

In Chan News