The Neuropsychology Unit aims to employ behavioral measures of cerebral function to elucidate the mechanisms leading to dementia in neurologic disease.  Cognitive and psychiatric tests are administered to patients and healthy volunteers, providing metrics of, for example, intelligence, mental processing speed, memory, executive function, depression, and personality.  The test results are frequently correlated with brain MRI, as well as activities of daily living.


Specific projects underway are:

  • Improving Cognitive Outcomes in Multiple Sclerosis: We are developing new assessment tools using conventional as well as computer-administered techniques.
  • Understanding the Clinical Impacts of Neurodegeneration: Diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis all give rise to cognitive disorder and psychiatric symptoms.  In collaboration with the MRI Analysis Unit, we are correlating psychological changes with MRI measures of regional atrophy and DTI.
  • Cognitive Reserve and Personality Traits Mediate Clinical Progression in MS: There is much unexplained variation in the progression of neurological disability in MS, and we believe that life-long characteristics distinguish patients who deteriorate from their more resilient counterparts.
  • Treating Cognitive Impairment: While there are presently no indicated therapies for MS-associated cognitive disorder, we have published encouraging pilot studies on stimulants in MS, and we currently have an ongoing study on the effects of dalfampridine on cognition and motor function in MS.
  • Preventing Job Loss: This project has developed a work problems monitoring tool on the internet that is being used to track minor failures in the work place and to determine how that related to neuropsychological impairment and brain atrophy.