A Brain Scan

Early detection of Dementia: Our work in aging is primarily directed at understanding cognitive changes occurring during the early periods of degenerative processes such as Alzheimer’s disease. We are interested in how these changes occur, when they are detectable, and how they negatively impact functional independence and community tenure. Current studies include: assessment of executive function and instrumental activities of daily living in community-dwelling elders; functional brain changes in mild cognitive impairment; relationship between cognition and novel biochemical markers of Alzheimer’s disease; impact of cognitive function on caregiver/care recipient relationships; impact of nutritional supplementation on cognitive and functional independence in older adults with and without cognitive impairment.

Mild concussive injury and cognitive change: Our laboratory is pursuing two related lines of research on concussion. The first is looking for neurocognitive and bioimaging indicators of post acute injury following a mild traumatic brain injury in healthy young adult athletes. It is our hope to gauge the relative plasticity involved in cognitive function following acute and post acute injury. 2) Evaluation of longterm consequences of early adult concussive injury. We are interested in whether early concussive injuries impact a person’s cognitive abilities and their functional abilities as they age.

Methods of neuropsychological interpretation: Research focuses on the development and use of quantitative methods for combining diverse neurocognitive test variables under a common metric. The aim is to increase the reliability and validity of neuropsychological test data for greater accuracy of interpretation. A statistical interpretive method (Miller & Rohling, 1999) is the basic paradigm followed.

Undergraduate Research opportunities: Undergraduate students work within our laboratory on a regular basis in order to get hands on research experience. The Psychology department views these kinds of laboratory experiences as integral to the Psychology major and we encourage all UGA Psychology students to become involved in the many exciting research projects within the Department. In our laboratory, students typically work for 2 or more semesters with graduate students and Dr. Miller on specific projects that are ongoing in the lab. PSYC 4800, 4850, and a variety of Honors experiences including Honors Theses are available. Please visit the Department webpage (www.uga.edu/psychology) for more information. Our laboratory also typically supports one to two students affiliated with the Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO) and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP).