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NPR Lab Summer 2016

Principal Investigator

Bart Rypma, Ph.D.
Full 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: [email protected]
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.

Lab Manager

Shawheen Faghihahmadabadi began attending UT Dallas in the fall of 2011. He is an 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.

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: [email protected]

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.

Binu Thomas, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Center for BrainHealth, University of Texas at Dallas
Advanced Imaging Research Center, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Thomas received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington jointly with the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in August 2014. He is currently working as Senior Research Scientist at the Advanced Imaging Research Center at UT Southwestern and as Postdoctoral Research Fellow with Dr. Bart Rypma at the Center for Brain Health at UT Dallas.

Dr. Thomas has more than 15 years of research experience in neuroimaging, MRI data acquisition, analysis and interpretation. He is interested in studying brain function using MRI based methods to measure perfusion, cerebrovascular reactivity, and cerebral metabolic rate of oxygen consumption in young, and aging volunteers, and in diseases like Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s disease. He has published more than 15 peer reviewed journal publications, including papers in NeuroImage,  J. Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism, and JMRI, and has published over 40 conference abstracts.

Research Interests: brain function in young, aging, Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s disease; effects of exercise on brain function, functional MRI, cerebrovascular physiology, perfusion MRI.

Ph.D. 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: [email protected]
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. 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, Semantic representation, Multimodal interaction, Music cognition, Time perception, Consciousness

Lyndahl Himes, M.S.
Doctoral Student
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas
Email: [email protected]

Lyndahl is a doctoral student in Cognition and Neuroscience at UT Dallas, where she also received her Bachelor’s of Science in Neuroscience with High Honors and Master's degree in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience. 

Research Interests: Cognition and aging; Neuroplasticity in learning and memory

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: [email protected]
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.

Undergraduates

Leslie el-Effendi began attending UT Dallas in August of 2014 after a long absence from her studies.  Originally a pre-med student at Princeton University in the early ‘80s, she will receive her B.S. in Neuroscience in December of 2016.  She joined Dr. Rypma’s lab in August and is interested in neuroplasticity of learning and memory, as well as cognition and aging.

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.

Roshni Mandania is a sophomore undergraduate majoring in Biology and currently on the pre-med track. She is a CV Honors student whose interest in multiple sclerosis sparked her interest in conducting research for Dr. Rypma. She joined Dr. Rypma’s lab in Fall 2014 as a research assistant and is currently involved in the recruitment portion of the Multiple Sclerosis study. She is interested in studies that focus on psychiatric illnesses along with cognition and memory.

Collaborators

Lars Bäckman - Karolinska

Bharat Biswal - NJIT

Scott Davis - SMU

Elliot Frohman - UTSW

John Hart - UTD and UTSW

Hao Huang - Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania and UPenn

Dan Krawczyk - UTD and UTSW

Hanzhang Lu - Johns Hopkins University

Vivek Prabhakaran - U Wisconsin Madison

NPR Alumni


Nicholas Hubbard was a Ph.D. student and researcher working with Dr. Rypma. He received his Bachelor’s of Science with High Honors from Michigan State University, where he studied Psychology. Nicholas’ research focuses on alterations in neural systems and cognition in psychiatric and neurologic populations. He is now a Post-doctoral Associate in the Gabrieli Lab at MIT!

Larry Oasay was 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 his Masters degree in Rehabilitation Counseling at UT Southwestern Medical Center in 2014.

Saranya Sundaram was a research assistant and lab manager for Dr. Rypma. She graduated from the Rehabilitation Counseling program at UT Southwestern Medical Center. She 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.

Kristy Deupree was a graduate student in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience at UTD. She received her B.S. in Neuroscience from UTD in Fall 2013. Kristen studied auditory cognition with an emphasis on music cognition. She conducted behavioral experiments using musical stimuli.

Niha Pereira was a graduate student in the Applied Cognition and Neuroscience master’s program. She completed her B.A. in Psychology with Honors, with minors in Philosophy and French at Baylor University.

Noor Un Nehar Qureshi was an undergraduate majoring in Neuroscience with an emphasis on pre-health. She joined Dr. Rypma’s lab in Fall 2013 as a research assistant and was researching interference effects in working memory.

Diana Mungall was a study coordinator working with Dr. Rypma and a 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.


Dr. Ilana J. Bennett was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Dr. Rypma's lab at the Center for Brain Health and the University of Texas at Dallas. She received a PhD in Psychology with a concentration in Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience from Georgetown University in 2009. She is now an Assistant Project Scientist in the Stark Lab at UC Irvine!

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