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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

Judith Gallagher
NeuroPsychometric Research Lab
UT Dallas Center for BrainHealth
Office: CBH 2.218
Office Phone: (972) 883-3414
Study Line: (214) 461-9489
Email: [email protected]

Judith Gallagher is a lab manager and assistant for Dr. Rypma. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Neuroscience from UT Dallas in December 2016. Her interests include Multiple Sclerosis, mental imagery, and mood disorders, and her future plans include research in those areas of study.

Judith is an avid reader, and spends her additional spare time engaging in art or with her rescue dog.

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. Binu 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 Himes 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

Dinesh Keran Sivakolundu, M.D.
Doctoral Student
Center for Brain Health, University of Texas at Dallas
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas
Email: [email protected]
Office: CBH 2.414

Dr. Dinesh Keran Sivakolundu joined the NPR lab in 2016 as a doctoral student in cell and molecular biology at UT Dallas. He completed his medical degree from Govt. Kilpauk Medical College, Chennai in India. He is interested in understanding the pathophysiological basis of various autoimmune and degenerative neurological disorders and how it contributes to the disease progression. “The biggest challenge in clinical research is to translate basic medical research findings and vice versa. They don’t work the majority of the time,” says Dinesh. He aims to solve the problem by employing various non-invasive techniques like fMRI to study the physiological basis of the disease process directly in patients. In particular, he is now interested in determining how cognitive dysfunction occurs in multiple sclerosis.

He enjoys teaching and is a teaching assistant for Human Anatomy and Physiology. His hobbies include playing table-tennis and piano.

Research Interests: Autoimmune Neurology, Neurodegeneration, Neurometabolism, Neuroimaging, Cognition

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.

Yuguang “Irene” Zhao, M.S.
Doctoral Student
School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas
Email: [email protected]

Irene is a Ph.D. student in Cognition and Neuroscience. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Finance at Shandong University of Finance and Economics, and a Master’s degree in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience at the University of Texas at Dallas. She aims to use imaging techniques such as fMRI and EEG as well as advanced statistical methods to investigate the neuroscience of human cognition. She is also interested in how aging and neurodegenerative diseases affect brain function and cognition.

Research Interests: The neuroscience of human information processing, especially the interaction between online goal processing, the representation of information, and the fate of information.

Undergraduate and Post-baccalaureate

Christina Atkinson is almost finished with her Bachelor’s in Psychology, and is also part of the fast-track program to receive her Master’s in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience. As a research assistant she conducts neuropsychological testing for the Multiple Sclerosis and Aging studies. Her research interests include neuroimaging, cognition, and mental illnesses.

Carl Heinrich is a post-baccalaureate student in the cBiomed program at UT Dallas. He graduated with a BS in Neuroscience in 2016 and is interested in neurodegenerative and white matter disease pathology. Currently, he assists with the multiple sclerosis and healthy aging projects. Carl plans to attend medical school in 2018, taking experience with patients and the research process with him to benefit those he treats in the future.

Sashia King transferred to UTD in the summer of 2016 to complete her undergraduate studies in Psychology, with a minor focus in Neuroscience. She completed an Associate of Arts degree while on active duty in Naval service overseas, focusing her research on the effects of technology on neurocognitive deficits and associated structural brain changes. She joined the NPR lab as a research assistant in the Spring of 2017, and is currently assisting with studies exploring the neural mechanisms of Mindfulness and Depression.

Research Interests: Cognitive and neurological phenomena in psychiatric populations, Neuroimaging, Consciousness, Epigenetics

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.

Bhargavi Rao is a sophomore undergraduate majoring in Health Care Studies under the pre-medical track. She completed a research internship in Middlesborough, England that assessed neonatal hyperbilirubinemia in newborns and its relation to jaundice prior to joining the NPR lab. Her interest in the Multiple Sclerosis studies as well as the use of fMRI imaging to study neurocognitive ageing sparked her interest in conducting research with Dr. Rypma.

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

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

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 received 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 was an 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.

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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