Thomas J. Covey PhD

Thomas Covey

Thomas J. Covey

Contact Information
Department of Neurology
Division of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurosciences
Sherman Hall Annex Room 114
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: 716-829-5989
Fax: NA

Professional Summary:

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.

Education and Training:

  • PhD, Neuroscience, University at Buffalo (2016)
  • MS, Neuroscience, University at Buffalo (2010)
  • BS, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester, with Distinction (2008)


  • Assistant Professor, Neurology, University at Buffalo (2017-present)
  • Graduate Faculty, Neuroscience Program, University at Buffalo (2017-present)
  • Research Assistant Professor, Neurology, University at Buffalo (2016–2017)
  • Laboratory Manager, Division of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurosciences, University at Buffalo (2011–2016)

Awards and Honors:

  • Dean‘s Award for Outstanding Dissertation Research (2017)
  • Neuroscience Thesis Award (2017)
  • Gina M. Finzi Memorial Summer Graduate Fellowship (2012)
  • Society for Neuroscience Graduate Student Travel Award (2011)
  • Gina M. Finzi Memorial Summer Graduate Fellowship (2011)

Research Expertise:

  • Cognitive impairment: Cognitive functioning in patients with Multiple Sclerosis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Cognitive processes: Working memory; executive functions; cognitive control; response inhibition; problem solving and reasoning ability
  • Cognitive training: Targeted training of cognitive processes such as working memory, interference control, and selective attention
  • Electroencephalography (EEG) and Event-Related Potential (ERP) methods: Using ERP components derived from the ongoing EEG as indices of specific cognitive processes; specific expertise with N2 and P3 ERP component measures

Research Centers:

  • Jacobs Neurological Institute

Grants and Sponsored Research:

  • June 2017–June 2020
    The effects of working memory training on brain function, structure, and cognition in MS
    National Multiple Sclerosis Society
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • January 2018–January 2020
    The effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms on behavioral, psychological, and neurophysiological measures of decision making in police officers
    National Institutes of Justice
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  • October 2016–November 2017
    Neurocognitive, electrophysiological and MRI changes associated with low level laser therapy (photobiomodulation) in the treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury: A pilot study
    American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery
    Role: Co-Investigator
  • August 2014–April 2016
    Does working memory training improve brain function and cognition in healthy individuals and in patients with Multiple Sclerosis?
    National Multiple Sclerosis Society
    Role: Co-Investigator

Journal Articles:

Books and Book Chapters:

Professional Memberships:

  • Society fo Psychophysiological Research (2014–present)
  • Society for Neuroscience (2010–present)
  • International Honor Society in Psychology, Psi Chi (2009–present)


  • "Improving performance at the cognitive desktop: The effects of targeted working memory training on neuroscognitive processes in healthy individuals and in patients with Multiple Sclerosis" UB Department of Neurology Grand Rounds, University at Buffalo (2017)
  • "Visual-verbal working memory training versus visual search training have overlapping and distinct transfer effects on tasks of spatial working memory and cognitive control: An event-related potential study" Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience (2017)
  • "Use of neurocognitive outcome measures in testing the efficacy of photobiomodulation therapy for the treatment of TBI: A pilot study" Center for Translational and Cllinical Biophotonics Seminar Series, University at Buffalo (2017)
  • "Evaluation of inhibitory control and distraction using event-related potentials in healthy individuals and patients with Multiple Sclerosis" Human-Computer Interaction International Conference, Foundations of Augmented Cognition (2016)
  • "The effects of training working memory and stimulus interference control processes on cognitive performance and underlying brain activity: Preliminary findings" UB Neurology Grand Rounds, Department of Neurology, University at Buffalo (2015)
  • "An introduction to Event-Related Potentials (ERPs): The good, the bad, and the noisy" UB Dept of Communicative Disorders and Sciences Colloquium, Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences, University at Buffalo (2014)
  • "The neural basis of cognitive functioning: Methods, experimental findings, and implications" Biology Major Seminar Series, Biology Department, Canisius College (2013)
  • "Event-related potential indices of working memory functioning: Implications for the evaluation of cognitive dysfunction in clinical populations and outcomes following targeted training" Brain and Behavior Science Symposium, University at Buffalo (2013)
  • "Electrophysiological, behavioral, and structural indices of working memory dysfunction in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus" Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience (2012)
  • "Single trial variability of event-related brain potentials as an index of neural efficiency during information processing" Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience (2011)
  • "Processing speed, neural efficiency and working memory: Their relationship with MRI measures in Multiple Sclerosis" UB Neuroscience Research Day, Society for Neuroscience Buffalo Chapter (2010)
  • "Complex, not simple, processing speed is associated with working memory performance and structural MRI indices of brain damage in multiple sclerosis" Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, Society for Neuroscience (2009)
See all (2 more)

Service Activities:

  • National Brain Bee Judge (2015)
  • Webmaster UB Neuroscience Graduate Student Association (2013–2014)
  • Editor-in-chief, Founder, NeuroNews; Neuroscience newsletter from the UB Neuroscience Graduate Student Association (2012–2014)
  • President, UB Neuroscience Graduate Student Association (2011–2012)
  • University at Buffalo Mark Diamond Research Fund Committee Reviewer (2011)
  • Manuscript Reviewer; International Journal of Psychophysiology, Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, Experimental Brain Research, Physiology & Behavior, Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, Journal of Psychosomatic Research (2011–present)
  • Treasurer, UB Neuroscience Graduate Student Association (2010–2011)
  • Brain Awareness Week Organizer/Participant (2009–2015)

School News:

In the Media:

Clinical Specialties:

Clinical Offices:

Insurance Accepted:

Contact Information

Department of Neurology
Division of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurosciences
Sherman Hall Annex Room 114
Buffalo, NY 14214
Phone: 716-829-5989
Fax: NA