Dr Joshua Bacon

Dr Joshua Bacon

Dr Joshua Bacon received his PhD in Psychology from New York University (NYU) in 1976.

He worked at Swarthmore College with Dr Hans Wallach, one of the last remaining students of Wolfgang Kohler, and published a number of articles on perception and perceptual learning. Dr Bacon held the position of Assistant Professor at Tufts University in Massachusetts, where he received tenure in 1984. He was then recruited by Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University in New York City, where he is currently the Chair of the Department of Psychology. He also holds a faculty position as a research scientist in the Department of Neurology of the NYU School of Medicine, and is a member of the clinical and research team in the NYU Multiple Sclerosis Care Center.

Dr Bacon’s current research focuses on developing tests sensitive to speed-of-processing impairments in subclinical and early MS, and on developing a comprehensive, cognitive rehabilitation programme for patients with MS who have cognitive impairments.

Joshua Bacon’s GMSI project

A novel, sensitive, technically simple sound localization test to detect and monitor disease progression in minimally affected multiple sclerosis patients

When two dichotic sound bursts of equal amplitude are presented simultaneously through headphones, the sound is perceived as being localized in the median plane. Introducing a time delay as short as 20 microseconds between the sound bursts is experienced as a shift of the sound toward the ear in which the waveform leads in time. Studies have shown that patients with MS often have deficits in sound localization ability. This finding has been attributed to the fact that sound localization is exquisitely sensitive to disruptions of the underlying auditory brainstem, a frequent locus of demyelination in MS.

We hypothesized that a test of sound localization may prove superior for detecting and monitoring speed-of-processing deficits in patients with MS who have no or minimal impairment, compared to tests such as the Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT) and Symbol Digit Modalities Test (SDMT). These standard tests measure speed of processing on a timescale of seconds; this scale is several orders of magnitude slower than that of sound localization, which occurs over microseconds. Our pilot study showed that the sound localization task (SLT) distinguishes patients with no or minimal disability (Expanded Disability Status Scale score of 0 and 1) from healthy controls, while SDMT and PASAT do not.

The purpose of the present project is to validate the SLT sensitivity to early disease, and to study its trajectory in repeated testing over a 1-year period. We believe that the SLT will be suitable for identifying incipient speed-of-processing impairment in clinically silent MS, and for monitoring disease progression or stabilization resulting from therapeutic interventions.

Download video of Dr Bacon’s presentation at the GMSI awards

Access publications related to Dr Bacon's research project

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