Center for Neuropsychological Studies
The research performed at CNS is directed to increase understanding of the anatomy, physiology, and neurochemistry of the normal behaviors mediated by the brain. These behaviors include: speech and language (including reading and writing), mathematics, purposeful skilled movement, creativity, executive functions (e.g., planning, engaging, disengaging, and sequencing), emotions (experiences and communications), visuospatial abilities, sensory perception and recognition (in all modalities), memory (working, episodic, semantic, and perceptual), attention, self-recognition and many other functions. The goal of the research performed by members of the CNS is directed at learning how diseases of the brain and body adversely influence these functions and cause of disorders such as sensory-attentional and action-intentional neglect, anosognosia and anisodiaphoria, aphasia, alexia, agraphia, apraxia, aprosodia, agnosia, amnesia and dementia. These disorders can be induced by many diseases such stroke, trauma, tumor, infections and degenerative diseases. Members of the CNS are also engaged in research that attempts to learn how to best treat, manage and rehabilitate these neurobehavioral disorders. In general, our research is hypothesis driven, but we also take advantage of “experiments of nature.”
Members of our CNS come from several specialties including: neuroscience, clinical psychology-neuropsychology, speech pathology, neurology and psychiatry. To perform this research members of the CNS preform neurobehavioral testing, anatomic brain imaging, functional brain imaging and electrophysiological studies in both normal subjects and in patients with diseases of the brain. The CNS enables collaboration between people with different sets of knowledge and skills and this enhances members’ opportunity to receive research support as well as to perform research and publish papers. There have been hundreds of published papers that have been aided by the collaborative efforts of the CNS.
The second major goal of the CNS is to enhance the education of students, (undergraduate, medical, speech pathology and psychology students) as well as post-doctoral fellows (physicians, speech pathologists and neuropsychologists) about normal brain function and neurobehavioral disorders induced by diseases that affect the brain. For example, our Post-Doctoral Cognitive Disorders Fellowship Program is directed to improve fellows’ skills in providing clinical care of patients with neurocognitive disorders, to perform research and become educators. The clinical program is designed to have our fellows enhance their clinical skills by seeing patients with neurocognitive deficits from diseases such the degenerative disorders, strokes, seizures and movements disorders. Our fellows also attend conferences and courses that further enhance their clinical skills.
At UF we have a large faculty of people who perform clinical and research in cognitive disorders in the Department of Neurology, Communication Disorders and Health Psychology. In addition, to helping train undergraduate, graduate students as well as residents, we have already trained about 80 postdoctoral fellows, most of whom now hold academic positions and several who are now leaders in their fields. Our training is done by close personal mentoring, attending conferences and classes (when needed).
The CNS is closely associated with the McKnight Brain Institute (MBI). In addition to office and laboratory space, the MBI is equipped with some of the most advanced technological resources including the Advanced Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy (AMRIS), which has two 3 Tesla MRI systems approved for human use. AMRIS is part of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, which is sponsored by the NIH’s National Center for Research Resources. One of the 3T systems is a dedicated solely to research. This system is equipped with an Integrated Functional Imaging System (IFIS: MRI Devices, Inc.) that enables investigators to present visual and auditory stimuli and record digital responses. In addition, experimental subjects’ verbal responses can be recorded with a noise-canceling microphone system from Resonance Technology. In addition to the MBI many members of our center have laboratories and offices in the Malcom Randall VAMC where there are also facilities for neuroimaging. Member of the CNS staff the Memory and Cognitive Disorders Clinic and Movement Disorders Clinic at the Shands Hospital and the Malcom Randall VAMC. Several clinics are held each week and patients are referred from all over the America and the World. Our VA Medical Center has two national Centers of Excellence, including our Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) our Brain Rehabilitation Research Center (BRRC) and many members of our CNS are staff and members of these organizations.