Heather Fennell - Al Sayed

BSc, OC(C), COMT, MSc; Assistant Professor


Email: heather.fennell@iwk.nshealth.ca
Phone: (902) 470-7511
Mailing Address: 
IWK Health Centre
5850 University Avenue, 6th Floor
P.O.Box 9700, Halifax, NS
B3K 6R8

VISC 5010.03 - Fundamentals of Vision Science: Afferent System

This class is designed to acquaint the student with the anatomy/physiology of the human central nervous system as it relates to the sensation of vision. Testing parameters used in the afferent visual system examination will be discussed. Recent developments in perimetry, clinical psychophysics, and electrophysiology will be explored.

FORMAT: Lecture

VISC 5240.03 - Therapeutic and Psychosocial Aspects of Low Vision

This class encompasses a broad spectrum of visual impairments. The pathphysiological basis, clinical manifestations, and treatment modalities of visual loss will be addressed.

FORMAT: Lecture and lab
PREREQUISITE: VISC 5020.03 or permission of instructor

Research Interests

Heather is interested in strabismus-induced cytoskeletal changes in the feline lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN). Based on past research, we know that the immature visual system is susceptible to change when influenced by abnormal visual experience (like monocular deprivation). Heather has investigated whether or not strabismus (a less drastic form of abnormal visual experience) could have similar impacts on LGN layers associated with the deviated eye. She found that there was a loss in neurofilament within layers of the LGN associated with the deviating eye, but no decrease in the cross-sectional area of the cells within that layer. This means that strabismus-induced restructuring of the neural connections may indeed involve a loss of neurofilament protein in order to promote neural pliancy within the visual system. In the future, we hope to explore the possible mechanisms by which this neurofilament protein is being broken down.