Neuropsychology Concentration: Faculty

Research and clinical interests of core and adjunct neuropsychology faculty, and of behavioral neuroscience faculty whose interests are related to topics and problems in human neuropsychology:

Core Neuropsychology Faculty

Inge-Marie Eigsti, Ph.D. (inge-marie.eigsti@uconn.edu) is interested in developmental cognitive neuroscience.  In particular, she investigates language (especially, syntax and prosody) and brain development in children with autism, with a particular interest in core cognitive processes that are involved in underlie language deficits, including implicit learning and working memory. Another active focus of research examines the interaction between conversational gestures in autism, and how they impact cognitive representation and communicative clarity. She collaborates with Deborah Fein (PI) on Optimal Outcomes research. She uses a combination of functional MRI and behavioral paradigms in her research. She teaches the Cognitive Assessment Practicum (5301) and co-teaches Language Acquisition and Language Pathology (5470) with Dr. Letitia Naigles (Developmental Program).

Deborah Fein, Ph.D. (860-486-3518;deborah.fein@uconn.edu) is interested in neuropsychology with adults and children, although most of her current research concerns children. In particular, she has investigated various neuropsychologic aspects of autism, including neuropeptides, evoked potentials, language, memory, affect processing, sensory processing, and early detection. Current projects involve early detection, children with optimal outcomes, mimicry and imitation, and early language development. She teaches Neuropsychological Assessment (PSYC 5141), co-teaches Foundations in Neuropsychology (PSYC 5140) with Dr. John Salamone (BNS Program; see below), and coordinates the Practicum in Neuropsychologic Assessment (PSYC 6141). Dr. Fein is board certified in clinical neuropsychology (ABPP-CN).

Chi-Ming Chen, Ph.D. (860-486-3521;chi-ming.chen@uconn.edu) is interested in translational neuroscience and his research goal is to translate neurophysiological knowledge into interventions for neurological and psychiatric disorders. He employs electrophysiological methods to study sensory processing and cognitive function in non-human primates, healthy participants, and psychiatric patients, with particular interests in hallucinations and cognitive impairments in schizophrenia.

Affiliated Neuropsychology Faculty

Richard Kaplan, Ph.D. (rkaplan@uchc.edu) is an Emeritus professor of Psychiatry and Neurology and director of the Neuropsychology Service at the UConn Health Center. He teaches a course in Case-Based Neuroanatomy and supervises practicum students. He has over 25 years of experience as a Clinical Neuropsychologist and is board certified in clinical neuropsychology (APBB-CN). Current research projects include the cognitive changes in older adults with vascular risk factors and white matter disease and the neuropsychology of Lyme disease. Kevin Manning, Ph.D. (Adults), and Brian Schweinsburg, Ph.D. (Lifespan), recently joined the Medical School faculty and are supervising practicum students.

Sarah Bullard, Ph.D., is the Director of Psychology, and Co-Director of the Center for Brain Health at Gaylord Specialty Healthcare. Her expertise includes Concussion, TBI, Dementia, and a range of psychiatric and neurological disorders.

Greg Javornisky, Ph.D., and Gary Isenberg, Ph.D., teach a course in Child Neuropsychology. They also teach a practicum in child neuropsychological assessment at Connecticut Pediatric Neuropsychology Associates (Hartford). This experience focuses on assessment of children with learning disorders, seizures, head trauma, dyspraxia, Tourette syndrome, and genetic disorders. Their research interests pertain to long-term outcomes in head injury and to nonverbal learning disorders and pragmatic language deficits.

John Beauvais, Ph.D. is Director of Neuropsychology at the West Haven Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and is a clinical instructor in the Yale University School of Medicine’s Department of Psychiatry (New Haven), and a practicum supervisor. In addition, Dr. Annie Chang supervises neuropsychology students at the Newington VA. His students work with patients who either have documented neurologic disease or are undergoing diagnostic work-ups for neurologic conditions or trauma. Disorders include cerebrovascular disease, dementing illnesses, multiple sclerosis, head trauma, learning disorders, and substance abuse. Dr. Beauvais’ current research addresses the neuropsychologic aspects of chronic substance abuse and human immunodeficiency virus as well as innovative approaches to assessment.

Dennis Johnston, Ph.D. is Director of Neuropsychology at the Hospital for Special Care (New Britain), a rehabilitation and chronic care facility. In association with Timothy Belliveau, Ph.D. and Steve Brown, Ph.D., he teaches a neuropsychology practicum that involves experience with inpatients and outpatients who have acquired brain or spinal cord injury, stroke, dementia, and other neurologic conditions. Students may also be exposed to rehabilitation procedures. The group’s research interests include assessment of response bias, actuarial approaches to diagnosis, and emotional and behavioral changes that are associated with traumatic brain injury.

Other practica have been arranged at various times throughout the region, including hospitals in Hartford (Dr. Kevin Young and Dr. Caroline Posada (Psychiatric patients and inpatient/medically complex patients),Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital), Providence (Dr. Karen Holler at Butler Hospital, supervising assessment of children and adolescents with psychiatric illnesses; Dr. Terry Goldman, Neurodevelopmental Center of MHRI and Brown Medical School; Dr. Christine Trask, Rhode Island Hospital, supervising assessment of children and adolescents with medical illnesses), and New Haven (Dr. Mary Best, Yale New Haven Hospital (Medically complex children).

Behavioral Neuroscience (BNS) Faculty

Several faculty members in UConn’s Behavioral Neuroscience Division have research and teaching interests that are closely related to human neuropsychology. Students may consult with these professors, attend their classes, have them on their thesis or dissertation committees, and occasionally complete research projects with them. Applicants who wish to pursue doctoral training in basic or developmental neuroscience should apply directly to the BNS Division.

James Chrobak, Ph.D. (860-486-4243; james.chrobak@uconn.edu) explores the emergent physiologic (fast-frequency oscillations) and cognitive (memory consolidation) properties of the hippocampal formation, its interconnected circuits, and their relation to neuropathology of the temporal lobe (e.g. dementia and temporal lobe epilepsy).

Holly Fitch, Ph.D. (860) 486-2554 ;roslyn.h.fitch@uconn.edu) studies hormones, brain development and cognition, as well as animal models of brain damage and developmental disabilities

Etan Markus, Ph.D. (860-486-4588; etan.markus@uconn.edu) studies a variety of cognitive processes in rats, including the neuronal bases of learning and memory, age-related changes in learning, sex differences and estrous cycle effects on cognition, and spatial and contextual learning. These are studied using both behavioral tests and examining the activity of networks of individual hippocampal neurons as rats learn and perform various experimental tasks.

Heather Read, Ph.D. (860- 486-4108 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting; heather.read@uconn.edu) studies spatial, spectral and temporal encoding of acoustics, development and cognition, as well as animal models for developing brain implants to be used as prosthetics (Bionics). She also studies auditory brainstem and cortical networks and population encoding of sounds (music, phonemes, noise).

John Salamone, Ph.D. (860-486-4302; john.salamone@uconn.edu) conducts research on the motivational and motoric functions of dopamine and acetylcholine, explores issues in behavioral pharmacology, and employs microdialysis methods to study neurotransmission. In addition, he is interested in animal models of Parkinson’s disease, depression, and schizophrenia.

Harvey Swadlow, Ph.D. (860-486-2252; harvey.swadlow@uconn.edu) investigates the processing of sensory information by neocortical networks and conducts physiological analyses of communication among identified cortical neurons in the awake state.

Developmental and Developmental Neuroscience Faculty

Marie Coppola, Ph.D. (860-486-4907; marie.coppola@uconn.edu) characterizes the language-like properties of the gesture communication systems (homesigns) invented by deaf children, adolescents, and adults who do not have access to conventional language input. Such studies reveal children’s contribution to language learning, and inform our understanding of typical language acquisition. Her approach combines psycholinguistic methodology with a fieldwork component (in Nicaragua). Related interests include the gestures of hearing children and adults, language emergence and change (Nicaraguan Sign Language), and the cognitive consequences of a lack of linguistic input.

Letitia Naigles, Ph.D. (860-486-4942; letitia.naigles@uconn.edu) studies the acquisition of language in typically developing children and children with autism, comparing how the processes of language development are similar vs. different across populations. Current processes being investigated include attentional mechanisms, cognitive and linguistic principles, and both parental and therapy-based environmental effects. She co-teaches Language Acquisition and Language Pathology (5470) with Dr. Eigsti.

For descriptions of the research interests of other clinical psychology professors, including those who are involved in related areas such as health psychology, please refer to the brochure for UConn’s Clinical Psychology Division.