Sepideh Heydari

Sepideh Heydari
Office: 135e, IALH (R Hut)
Area of expertise

Cognition and Brain Sciences

I am a Mitacs Postdoctoral Research Fellow and a former graduate student at the Department of Psychology. I am interested in applied research on brain functions that can have direct and meaningful impact on patient health, care, and diagnosis.

Currently, I am the lead researcher on a clinical trial with a health technology industry partner. I investigate the potential of digital biomarkers from wearable sensor signals to determine brain lesion locations and load in patients with Multiple Sclerosis (pwMS). I use a combination of methods including results of neuropsychological assessments, physiological vibration acceleration (Phybrata) data assessment, MRI analyses, and Diffusion Tensor Imaging. I am excited to assess the sensor as an easier-to-use, lower cost, and more widely accessible and equitable solution as an alternative to current diagnostic methods.

My other interests include cognitive control, decision-making, and pain. During my doctoral degree I researched the role of cognitive control in modulating pain during effortful and goal-directed decision-making using behavioural experimentation, computational modeling, and neuroimaging (EEG). I am looking for creative ways to integrate my doctoral work with applied research on neurodegenerative diseases to see whether and how changes in the brain, as well as their environment, affect a person’s decision-making and overall behaviour.


Postdoctoral: Dr. Jodie Gawryluk

M.Sc. and Ph.D: Dr. Clay Holroyd

Representative publications

Snowden, T., ... , Heydari, S., Gawryluk, J., Christie, B., (2023) Brain Gain: Using a Multi-Faceted Approach to Diagnose and Treat Aging Adults with a History of Concussion, Neurotrauma, Austen, Texas, USA.

Heydari, S., and Holroyd, C., (2022). Pain Interferes with Reward Positivity Production, Psychophysiology.

Gerlach, A., Gordon, J., Elliott, D., ... Heydari, S., Hayward, K., Mortenson, P., (2021). Exploring structural constraints & Opportunities in a Hard to Reach System using a lens of trauma- and violence-informed care: early child development & intervention with Indigenous Families & Children in BC. Research Brief.

Heydari, S., (2020). Cognitive Control Modulates Pain During Effortful Goal-Directed Behaviour, Doctorate Dissertation, University of Victoria.

Ryan, J., Heydari, S., and Holroyd., C., (2018). The Influence of Pain and Monetary Reward on Cognitive Effort. University of Victoria Honours Thesis.

Bell, C., Heydari, S., and Holroyd., C., (2018). Effects of Pain and Monetary Loss on Frontal Midline Theta Activation: A Pilot Study. University of Victoria Honours Thesis.

Heydari, S., and Holroyd, C., (2016). Reward Positivity: Reward Prediction Error or Salience Prediction Error?, Psychophysiology.

Representative presentations

Heydari, S., Ralston, J., and Gawryluk, J., (2023), “Robustness of Balance-Related Digital Biomarkers in Differentiating People with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) from People without MS”, Society for Psychophysiological Research, New Orleans, USA.

Heydari, S., Lacey, C., Steward-Good, K., Mayo, C., Ralston, J., and Gawryluk, J., (2023), “The Relationship between Protxx Wearable Sensor Data and White Matter Microstructure in People with Multiple Sclerosis”, Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers, Aurora, Colorado, USA

Heydari, S., (2022), “Utility of wearable accelerometer sensors in diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis”, Research Rounds, Institute on Aging and Lifelong Health, University of Victoria.

Heydari, S., Gawryluk, J., and Ralston, J., (2021), “Protxx wearable sensors: One step close to bringing low-cost, equitable, and personalized (home) care to patients with Multiple Sclerosis”. Digital Health Conference (Virtual).

Heydari, S. and Holroyd, C., (2020), “Computational model of distinct control systems that regulate pain and other costs in the brain”, Poster presented online at the 60th annual virtual meeting of Society for Psychophysiological Research (SPR).

Heydari, S. and Holroyd, C., (2019), “Distinct computational models explain effects of pain and monetary loss on effortful decision making during extended goal-directed behavior.”, Poster presented at the 4th Multidisciplinary Conference on Reinforcement Learning and Decision Making (RLDM) conference, Montreal, Canada.

Recent Awards

May 2023 - Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers Travel Award

June 2021 – Mitacs Elevate Postdoctoral Fellowship Award

2014-2020 – Multiple Graduate Student Awards and competitive travel funds

June 2015 – Canadian Psychological Association Certificate of Research Excellence Award

2012-2017 – NSERC Full Scholarship