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NPR Lab 2013-14

Left to right: Saranya Sundaram, Larry Oasay, Monroe Turner, Diana Mungall, Ryan Brigante,
Bart Rypma, Travis Weaver, Sara Gamal, Jason Lee, Kristen Deupree, Nicholas Hubbard
Not shown: Asal Baragchizadeh, Benita Benny, Nathan Castillo, Chelsea Ellison,
Shawheen Faghihahmadabadi, Joanna Hutchison, Noorunnehar Qureshi, Noor Qutu, Eric Slinker

Principal Investigator:

Bart Rypma, Ph.D.
Associate Professor and Meadows Foundation Endowed Chair
Center for BrainHealth, University of Texas at Dallas
School of Behavioral & Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas
Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Phone: UTD 972-883-4472, CBH 972-883-3414, UTSW 214-645-2782
Email: bart.rypma@utdallas.edu
Office: JO 4.302

After receiving his PhD in experimental psychology from Georgia Tech, Dr. Rypma did postdoctoral work focusing on neural imaging at Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania. He also brings his expertise in fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to UT Southwestern Medical Center (UTSW), and he has been appointed by Dean Bert Moore as the faculty liaison between UT Dallas and UTSW.

Dr. Rypma came to the Center from Rutgers University. “I had never imagined myself living in Dallas, Texas, but once I came here and saw all the resources being committed to neuroscience, I knew it was a good place for me,” he says. “Neuroscience isn’t something you can do in a small way. It has to be done big, and it has to be done right, so I was really impressed with Center for Brain Health, UT Dallas, and UTSW.”

Dr. Rypma’s research is aimed at exploring the cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms of human memory and how those mechanisms are affected by aging and disease. He uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to observe the activity of younger and older adults as they perform cognitive tasks. fMRI is still a relatively new method for studying brain activity and much work remains to be done to perfect it, especially when comparing different populations like young and old. Thus, one focus of Dr. Rypma’s work has been the development of fMRI experimental methods to facilitate cross-population comparisons of neural activity.

He has published extensively cognitive and neurobiological mechanisms of human memory, including high-profile publications in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Nature Neuroscience, Cortex, and Neuroimage. Click here for his Biographical Sketch.

Research Scientists:

Joanna L. Hutchison, Ph.D.
Research Scientist
Center for BrainHealth, University of Texas at Dallas
School of Behavioral & Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas
Department of Psychiatry, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Phone: 972-883-3258
Email: joanna.hutchison@utdallas.edu

Dr. Joanna Hutchison is currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Dr. Bart Rypma at the Center for BrainHealth and the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas and at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Research Interests: Cognition and circumstances that affect cognition, such as aging, traumatic brain injury, and psychiatric illness (e.g., schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression); auditory processing; fMRI.

Graduate Students:

Ryan Brigante, M.S.
Doctoral Student
Center for BrainHealth, University of Texas at Dallas
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas
Email: ryan.brigante@utdallas.edu
Office: CBH 2.302 and GR 2.706

Ryan Brigante is a Ph.D. student in Cognition and Neuroscience at UT Dallas. He received his B.A. in Psychology summa cum laude from UT San Antonio.

Ryan is interested in the human conceptual system (semantic memory) and its interface with perception, action, and other memory systems. This area is known as “embodied cognition” or “grounded cognition” because it attempts to solve the symbol-grounding problem by deriving the meaning of abstract concepts from sensory-motor experience. We understand abstract concepts by relating them to source domains that we directly experience - and also by relating them to schemas, mental models of the world, that are partly available at birth via genetics and further reinforced and altered by life experience. These relations are called conceptual metaphors. Schemas are enabled and constrained by our physical embodiment. For example, we understand physical space with the “Space is a Container” metaphor. We perceive space as bounded due to our limited visual field, but space is not literally bounded. Space is boundless, but our conceptual system relates it to something tangible and concrete. Containers have edges (boundaries) that separate the inside from the outside. We conceptualize space in a similar fashion.

Ryan is also interested in the neural representation of abstract concepts and how they can be altered with experience. Concepts are directly embodied in the synaptic connectivity of the brain (especially the neocortex), and they are malleable by experience due to synaptic plasticity. It is likely that abstract concepts involve multi-modal convergence zones that combine information from sensory-motor cortices.

Research Interests: Embodied cognition, Conceptual metaphor, Neural representation of concepts, Abstraction, Scene perception and memory, Perception of space and time, Music cognition, Consciousness


Nicholas Hubbard, B.S.
Doctoral Student
Center for BrainHealth, University of Texas at Dallas
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas
Phone: 972-883-3414
Email: nicholas.hubbard@utdallas.edu
Office: CBH 2.218

Nicholas Hubbard is a Ph.D. student, research assistant, and study coordinator working with Dr. Rypma. He received his Bachelor’s of Science from Michigan State University, where he studied Psychology. For the past 5 years, his work has focused on higher order cognition in psychiatric populations. This work has been utilized to better understand both the nature of psychiatric illness, as well as better inform researchers on the associated cognitive processes. Currently, Nicholas is pursuing projects examining fluid cognitive abilities in persons with: Depression, Gulf War Syndrome, and Multiple Sclerosis. These studies integrate both cognitive/neuropsychological testing and functional imaging, to aid researchers in better understanding the interactions between neural mechanisms and cognition.

Research Interests: Cognitive processes in psychiatric illness, Models of working memory, Measurement of cognition, Functional magnetic resonance imaging of higher order cognitive processes.

Monroe Turner, B.A.
Doctoral Student
Center for BrainHealth, University of Texas at Dallas
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas
Email: monroe.turner@utdallas.edu
Office: CBH 2.302 and GR 2.706

Monroe Turner is a Ph.D. student in Cognition and Neuroscience and a Teaching Assistant at UT Dallas and the newest doctoral student in the NPR lab. Prior to coming to UT Dallas, Monroe received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics from the University of Texas at Austin. While at UT Austin, his research focused on the developmental and comparative linguistics of signed languages. He joined the NPR lab as a volunteer Research Assistant in 2012, prior to joining the doctoral program, where he assisted with studies on depression and Gulf War Syndrome, applying skills in process automation, data scrubbing, and algorithmic scoring. He is currently engaged in projects involving the analysis of the hemodynamic response function and deeper investigation into the physiological components of the BOLD signal in aging adults. Monroe hopes to further refine existing metrics used to characterize the hemodynamic response function in healthy controls and Multiple Sclerosis patients, and to develop new metrics in search of better predictors of MS and a deeper understanding of the neural effects of the condition.

Research Interests: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging methodology, variability of the hemodynamic response function, the relationship between aging and memory, effects of neurodegenerative diseases on cognition, neurolinguistics and semantic networks.

Kristen Deupree, B.S.
Master's Student
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas
Email: kad109020@utdallas.edu

Kristen Deupree is a graduate student in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience at UTD. She received her B.S. in Neuroscience from UTD in Fall 2013.

Kristen studies auditory cognition with an emphasis on music cognition. She conducts behavioral experiments using musical stimuli. She is currently studying the effects of encoding manipulations on memory errors and identifying the underlying causes.

Research Interests: Learning and remembering music, Encoding effects, Auditory perception, Transfer appropriate processing, fMRI applications, Sensory mapping

Amal Soomro, B.A.
Master's Student
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas
Email: axs135931@utdallas.edu

Amal Soomro completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Texas Tech University. As an undergraduate, she worked with Dr. Yiyuan Tang, director of the Texas Tech Neurological Institute. Dr. Tang’s research investigates the effects of meditation on stress in smokers using fMRI. She has also worked with Dr. Martina Klein, an experimental psychologist whose research interests include stress, workload, and human factors in medicine. She worked closely with Dr. Klein’s graduate students, specifically with Curtis Craig. She has experience in administering experiments and data collection, providing clear instructions to study participants, and maintaining experimental protocols. After completing her Master’s degree in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience, she plans to pursue a doctorate in Neuroscience.

Research Interests: Neurobiological substrates of mental disorders such as Autism, Alzheimer's Disease, and Parkinson’s disease

Research Assistants:

Jaeseong Lee, B.S.
Research Assistant
University of Texas at Dallas - Center for Brain Health

Jaeseong Lee is a post-bachelor student majoring in Electrical Engineering. He joined Dr. Rypma’s lab in Spring 2012 as a research assistant and is currently working on a project examining the neurovascular basis of Multiple Sclerosis.

Research Interests: Learning and memory, Neuroplasticity, fMRI, Brain-Computer Interfaces

Larry M. K. Oasay, B.A.
Research Assistant
University of Texas at Dallas - Center for Brain Health
UT Southwestern Medical Center - Rehab. Counseling

Larry Oasay is a research assistant working under Dr. Bart Rypma. He received his Bachelors of Arts in Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH Manoa) in 2011 and will be receiving his Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling at UT Southwestern Medical Center in May 2014.

Larry’s earliest research experience was in a behavioral neuroscience laboratory at UH Manoa. His contributions to a project culminated in a co-authorship in an article published in Genes, Brain and Behavior and a poster presentation at the Berkeley Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference in 2011. During his tenure at UT Southwestern Medical Center, Larry completed a neuropsychology internship at Zale-Lipshy University Hospital and a counseling internship at the Eugene McDermott Center for Pain Management. His Masters thesis investigated disparity between two types of Executive Functioning measures: performance-based tests and informant-reports. His thesis also sought to understand whether performance would differ on these measures depending on an individual’s ADHD subtype. Currently, Larry is working on a project that investigate neurological and cognitive functioning in individuals diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis compared to healthy controls using fMRI and neuropsychological measures. He is also assisting on a project that seeks to examine whether individuals diagnosed with a depressive disorder are cognitively affected compared to healthy controls, when presented with emotionally-laden words.

Research Interests: Behavioral, cognitive, and neural correlates in neuropsychiatric illnesses; integration of neuropsychological measures and theory; ADHD; Depression; Multiple Sclerosis; Executive Functioning.

Undergraduates:

Chelsea Ellison is a junior undergraduate majoring in Cognitive Science with a concentration in Neuroscience. She transferred to UT Dallas in Fall 2013 from Collin College, where she attained an Associate degree. She is currently a Research Assistant in Dr. Rypma's NeuroPsychometric Research Lab since Spring 2014. Chelsea is interested in research that studies the understanding of cognitive phenomena in close relation to the underlying neurobiological processes in the brain - specifically looking at neural plasticity when learning, the neurobiological differences in people with psychiatric illnesses compared to the normal brain, and the study of cognition and memory.

Shawheen Faghihahmadabadi began attending UT Dallas in the fall of 2011. He is currently a junior undergraduate majoring in Neuroscience with a pre-health track. He joined Dr. Rypma's lab in Spring 2014 as a research assistant. He is interested in all research of the NPR lab, from neuroplastic changes related to Multiple Sclerosis and age to understanding the underlying cognitive processes behind depression's memory effects and auditory cognition. Any information we can obtain about the human body is information that can go towards progressing medicine for mankind.

Sara Gamal is a senior undergraduate majoring in Neuroscience with a pre-health track. She joined Dr. Rypma’s lab in Spring 2012 as a research assistant and is currently working on a project examining fluid cognitive abilities in individuals with depression.

Research Interests: Neural processes in psychiatric illness, Learning and memory, Neuroplasticity, fMRI


Noor Un Nehar Qureshi is a junior undergraduate majoring in Neuroscience with an emphasis on pre-health. She joined Dr. Rypma’s lab is Fall 2013 as a research assistant, and currently is researching the interference effects of working memory. Noor is interested in research concerning a variety of topics currently being studied in the NPR lab, especially in the underlying processes that are associated with MS, depression, and changes in working memory that have origins in the plastic changes in the brain.

Lab Manager:

Saranya Sundaram, M.R.C.
Research Study Coordinator
University of Texas at Dallas - Center for Brain Health
UT Southwestern Medical Center - Rehab. Counseling
Phone: 903-267-2569
Email: saranya.sundaram@utdallas.edu

Saranya Sundaram is a research assistant and lab manager for Dr. Rypma. She is a recent graduate in the Rehabilitation Counseling program at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She has completed clinical internships in neuropsychology (giving neuropsychological assessments to adult outpatients with various brain-related disorders) and personal and social adjustment training (group psychotherapy for individuals with mixed psychiatric abilities looking for employment). Her master’s thesis investigated the developmental expectations and adolescent type 1 diabetes management in a diverse population. Her prior research also includes memory in eyewitness testimony. She received her Bachelor of Arts from Austin College, where she studied Psychology and English. Currently, Saranya is working on projects dealing with fluid cognitive abilities and age-related changes in fMRI BOLD signal in individuals with Multiple Sclerosis and depression. 

Research Interests: Cognitive functioning in psychiatric illnesses

NPR Lab 2012-13

Left to right: Leslie Pocklington, Zuri Tomeldan, Ilana Bennett, Angie Burke,
Bart Rypma, Ryan Brigante, Nicholas Hubbard
Not shown: Vamsi Daliparthi, Kristen Deupree, Sara Gamal, Joanna Hutchison,
Monroe Turner, Travis Weaver

NPR Alumni

Diana Mungall, B.S.
Research Study Coordinator

Diana Mungall is a study coordinator working with Dr. Rypma and a 4th year medical student at Texas A&M.  She received her Bachelor’s of Science from Emory University, where she studied Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology.  While at Emory, her work was on chaperone protein folding in Alzheimer’s disease.  Next, at Mount Sinai School of Medicine she worked on clinical studies of labor and delivery anesthesia and post-operative pain control.  During medical school, she worked on psychogenic nonepileptic seizures and anti-epileptic drug efficacy and pharmacokinetics.  Currently, Diana is working on a project dealing with fluid cognitive abilities in people with Multiple Sclerosis and age-related changes in BOLD signaling. 

Research Interests: Cognitive processes in psychiatric illness and Functional magnetic resonance imaging of higher order cognitive processes.


Ilana J. Bennett, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Dr. Ilana J. Bennett was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Dr. Bart Rypmas lab at the Center for Brain Health and the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas and at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She received a PhD in Psychology with a concentration in Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience from Georgetown University in 2009. Her research focused on cognitive and neurobiological changes associated with healthy aging with an emphasis on understanding the neural mechanisms underlying age-related differences in learning and memory.

Michael Motes, Ph.D.
Research Scientist

 

 

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