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Adult - Research Experiences

Applicants with strong research interests are encouraged to apply, as the resident is expected to participate in the development and execution of research in collaboration with the neuropsychology faculty. Current research in the section involves multidisciplinary projects focused in the following areas: 

University of Michigan

Neuromedical (Recruiting for 2014)
The Neuropsychology Section has strong ties with a number of departments in the Medical School including Neurology, Neurosurgery, Oncology, Psychiatry, Cardiology and Obstetrics/Gynecology. The Neuromedical research emphasis is on interdisciplinary research with a translational focus. The opportunities for training will be based upon interest and available research projects at the time of residency. The primary Neuropsychology faculty mentor is Carol Persad Ph.D., ABPP, with additional mentorship provided by Henry Buchtel, Ph.D., Bruno Giordani, Ph.D., Elise Hodges, Ph.D., David Marshall, Ph.D., Kelly Ryan, Ph.D., and Kristen Votruba, Ph.D., ABPP-CN

Below is a sample of research projects that are currently ongoing:

  • As part of the UM STIM program (Surgical Therapies to Improve Movement), research is aimed at developing models that will improve successful outcomes as well as the ability to identify risk of cognitive or functional declines after Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery in patients with Movement Disorders. Primary Mentor for this project is Dr. Persad.
  • In conjunction with Ob/Gyn and psychiatry, research is currently underway to understand cognitive and neuroactivation changes associated with estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) in peri- and post-menopausal women. Neuropsychological outcomes, PET and fMRI data are combined to assess risks and benefits of ERT in this population. Primary Mentor for this project is Dr. Persad.
  • In conjunction with the Departments of Oncology and Internal Medicine, research is being conducted to longitudinally explore the cognitive and psychological changes associated with bone marrow transplant in order to tailor treatment planning and identify risk factors associated with cognitive decline. The Primary Mentor for this project is Dr. Votruba.
  • Cognitive correlates of epilepsy and outcome of surgery. Primary Mentor for this project is Dr. Buchtel.
  • In collaboration with the departments of Neurology and Internal Medicine, the Neuropsychology Section is conducting evaluations of patients with metabolic disorder and obesity prior to and throughout the course of different treatment approaches in order to better understand cognitive and behavioral change in these patients over time. Primary Mentors for this project are Dr. Giordani and Dr. Persad.
  • In collaboration with the Department of Cardiology, Assessment of Neurologic Injury Subsequent to Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR) evaluates both cognitive and neurologic changes associated with TAVR. Primary Mentors for this project are Dr. Persad and Dr. Marshall.

Neurodegenerative (Not recruiting for 2014)
The Neuropsychology Section maintains a strong research program related to the early identification of disorders involving cognitive impairment (e.g., Mild Cognitive Impairment, Alzheimer’s disease and comorbid disorders). The program is closely related to the Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Center (MADC) housed in the same building as the Neuropsychology Section. The MADC aims to:  a) conduct and promote research on Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders; b) enhance the clinical care of patients and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease; and c) provide information and education on Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders. The infrastructure of the Center stems from a 20 year history as an NIH-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Moving forward with private funding, the MADC continues to promote the understanding and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders through key research, clinical care, and outreach efforts. In close collaboration with the MADC, the Neuropsychology Section conducts and supports innovative memory and aging research to enhance our understanding of a) biomarkers used for early detection; b) disease modifying treatments; c) basic disease mechanisms in AD and other dementias; and d) effective strategies to help individuals with memory loss and family members cope with memory or thinking changes. Several large databases provide numerous opportunities for research on already collected data and provide well characterized, potential research participants for postdoctoral resident and faculty initiated research projects. Recent and ongoing projects in the Neuropsychology Section include comparisons of healthy controls, MCI, Alzheimer’s, and other related dementia patients on a) techniques to enhance driving performance using the Section’s driving simulator, b) simple and complex walking conditions involving increasing cognitive load using the Section’s Mobility Laboratory, c) the relationship between neuropsychological performance and brain amyloid measures, d) the relationship of neuropsychological performance and positron emission tomography measures, e) studies of caregiver burden and service utilization, and f) the utility of neuroimaging, ERP measures, and computer-based neuropsychological screening batteries in the early identification of cognitive difficulties in community dwelling African Americans. Primary research mentor is Bruno Giordani, Ph.D., with additional mentorship provided by Linas Bieliauskas, Ph.D., Elise Hodges, Ph.D., Carol Persad, Ph.D., and Kelly Ryan, Ph.D.

Mood Disorders
The Mood Disorders research emphasis is directed at training in clinical and translational neuroscience investigations of mood disorders. The opportunities for training will be based upon the skills and interests of the resident. Several studies are underway examining the neurobiology and neuropsychological functioning of mood disorders, and the primary Neuropsychology faculty mentors for this area are Bruno Giordani, Ph.D., David Marshall, Ph.D., and Kelly Ryan, Ph.D.

There are currently two areas of emphasis offered on alternating years:

Mood Disorders/Neuroimaging: (Not recruiting for 2014)
The entering resident will be engaged in research that studies the mechanisms and deficits (and their evolution) underlying depression during late life in a developmental/longitudinal context. They will be part of a lab that employs neuropsychological and neuroimaging tools (fMRI, PET), in addition to other biomarkers of interest (e.g., genetic and hormonal variation) in predicting the course of late life depression, including conversion to dementia. The resident will participate in diagnostic interviews and will assist in writing summary reports. They will have the opportunity to supervise students rotating through the lab. There is existing neuropsychological and neuroimaging data from which they can develop projects for manuscript production. The entering resident need not have experience in neuroimaging to be successful, but should have an interest in learning about utilizing neuroimaging tools for research endeavors. Dr. Giordani will provide primary mentorship to this resident, with additional mentorship provided by Drs. Marshall and Ryan.

Bipolar Disorder/Neuroimaging: (Recruiting for 2014)
The entering resident will receive partial support through the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund and research will focus on the clinical neuropsychology of bipolar illness. The Longitudinal Study of Bipolar Disorder ascertains, evaluates, and follows over 1000 individuals with Bipolar Disorder. The resident will participate in diagnostic interviews including writing summary reports and other related activities to facilitate research in bipolar illness, including generation of and assistance with scientific posters, papers, grants, and related work. This will include pursuing research themes of interest to the resident. The resident will also assist in training and supervision of neuropsychology research assistants working on bipolar and related projects, including data management/integrity, database management, etc. Current projects of bipolar disorder include using fMRI to examine changes in executive control and functional outcomes in different phases of bipolar illness, and to determine if executive functioning tools might be useful in objective self-monitoring for changes in impulse control in hypomanic, manic, and mixed phases of illness. Additional projects also include risks and effects comprised by both cognitive and affective factors in mood disorders as well as neuropsychological aspects of certain features that influence mood disorders (e.g., substance use, trauma, etc.). Dr. Ryan will provide primary mentorship to this resident, with additional mentorship provided by Drs. Giordani and Marshall.

Geriatric (Not recruiting for 2014)
Geriatric neuropsychology represents an area of great need with our aging population. The postdoctoral residents in this specialty will participate in ongoing longitudinal studies of cognitive aging in practicing medical professionals and the impact on continued practice. Neuroimaging studies of differences in processing of visuospatial information between younger and older individuals also enable residents to gain experience with fMRI technology and research design and to explore dynamic cognitive change with normal aging. Residents also participate regularly in scholarly publication related to aging-related topics such as general overviews of cognitive aging, investigation of aging differences in age of onset and prognosis of both neurological and psychiatric disorders, and the interaction between cognitive psychological change in older individuals. Primary research mentor is Linas Bieliauskas, Ph.D., with additional mentorship provided by Bruno Giordani, Ph.D. and Carol Persad, Ph.D.

VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System 

TBI/Geriatric (Recruiting for 2014)
Residents who select this position will be involved in research that focuses on the interaction between medical disease and injury as well as cognitive and personality changes in veterans. In recent years this has included studies of the effects of drugs on cognition, the influence of normal aging vs. neurological disease, interactions between depression and cognition, the role of motivation in neuropsychological test performance, and interactive effects of PTSD and mild head injury, among others. The primary research mentor for this position is Linas Bieliauskas, Ph.D.


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