Department of Neurology
I am interested in brain processes that enable cognitive functions and contribute to individual differences in cognitive abilities. My particular focus is assessing brain function associated with stimulus categorization and resource allocation during working memory. Working memory involves a complex set of mental processes that are at the core of human cognition, general intellectual functioning and aspects of daily life. I study working memory and related cognitive processes (i.e., executive functions and cognitive control) in normal human populations and in patients with clinical disorders that compromise these cognitive abilities. This research utilizes a variety of methodological approaches, including dense-electrode EEG and event-related potential (ERP) measures of brain function, psychometric and neuropsychological measurement and MRI measures of brain structure and function.
A central aim of my work is characterizing the nature of large-scale brain network activity that underlies impaired cognitive performance in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). The relationship between the brain and behavior is an emphasis of this research. A major goal of this work is to establish measures of cognitive processing that have clinical value and are useful as outcome measures for translational research.
Another primary area of my work is the examination of neuroplasticity of working memory and other cognitive processes. Along these lines, I am exploring the impact of targeted training of working memory and stimulus interference/distraction control processes on cognition and brain function. This research aims to disentangle the specific neurocognitive mechanisms that are affected by different forms of cognitive training, and to understand the generalizability of these kinds of interventions. My long-term goal is to determine the viability of cognitive training for improving outcomes in cognitively impaired clinical populations, such as patients with MS.