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Ryan Darby, M.D.

Biographical Summary

Ryan DarbyRyan Darby is an assistant professor of neurology at Vanderbilt University. He received his undergraduate degree from Princeton University in psychology and neuroscience, and his medical degree from Vanderbilt University. He trained in neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital as part of the Partners Neurology/Harvard Medical School program. He then received the Sidney R. Baer, Jr. Research Fellowship in Clinical Neurosciences at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He simultaneously completed a clinical fellowship in behavioral neurology and neuropsychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and McLean Psychiatric Hospital in Boston. He currently sees patients as the director of the Frontotemporal Dementia Clinic ( ) in the Department of Neurology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Research Summary

Dr. Darby is interested in patients with symptoms at the border zone between neurology and psychiatry. Both neurological and psychiatric patients can share similar symptoms, including delusions, hallucinations, and criminal behavior. This suggests that these symptoms may share a common pathway across different diseases. However, these different diseases often have neuroimaging abnormalities in different locations, making it difficult to understand how the same symptom could develop.

To address this problem, Dr. Darby helped to develop a new neuroimaging approach to localize complex behaviors to brain networks, rather than specific brain locations. He first studied this in patients with focal brain lesions, showing that brain lesions in different locations causing the same syndrome were all functionally connected to the same brain network. Dr. Darby’s current work is focused on applying this method to neurodegenerative disorders in order to understand why brain atrophy in different locations can cause the same clinical syndrome. He is using this method in combination with behavioral testing to study criminal behavior in frontotemporal dementia patients and delusions/hallucinations in patients with Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, and Lewy Body Dementia. Dr. Darby has received numerous awards for his research, including the Stanley Cobb Award from the Boston Society for Neurology and Psychiatry, the Young Investigator Award from the American Neuropsychiatric Association, and the S. Weir Mitchell Award for Outstanding Early Career Investigator from the American Academy of Neurology. His work is generously funded by the Sidney R. Baer, Jr Foundation, the Alzheimer's Association, and the BrightFocus Foundation.

For more information on Dr. Darby’s research, please visit his lab website at

Selected Publications

Darby RR, Horn A, Cushman F, Fox MD. Lesion network localization of criminal behavior. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A [print-electronic]. 2017 Dec 12/18/2017; PMID: 29255017, PII: 1706587115, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1706587115, ISSN: 1091-6490.

Darby RR, Brickhouse M, Wolk DA, Dickerson BC, . Effects of cognitive reserve depend on executive and semantic demands of the task. J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatry [print-electronic]. 2017 Sep; 88(9): 794-802. PMID: 28630377, PII: jnnp-2017-315719, DOI: 10.1136/jnnp-2017-315719, ISSN: 1468-330X.

Darby RR, Laganiere S, Pascual-Leone A, Prasad S, Fox MD. Finding the imposter: brain connectivity of lesions causing delusional misidentifications. Brain [print-electronic]. 2017 Feb; 140(2): 497-507. PMID: 28082298, PMCID: PMC5278302, PII: aww288, DOI: 10.1093/brain/aww288, ISSN: 1460-2156.

Darby RR, Dickerson BC. Dementia, Decision Making, and Capacity. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2016 Dec; 25(6): 270-8. PMID: 29117022, PMCID: PMC5711478, PII: 00023727-201711000-00005, DOI: 10.1097/HRP.0000000000000163, ISSN: 1465-7309.

Darby RR, Pascual-Leone A. Moral Enhancement Using Non-invasive Brain Stimulation. Front Hum Neurosci. 2017; 11: 77. PMID: 28275345, PMCID: PMC5319982, DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00077, ISSN: 1662-5161