The Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Division serves to evaluate and treat patients with behavioral and cognitive symptoms that are a result of aging, neurodegeneration, or neurological disease. These progressive changes in the way individuals think and behave are most often related to structural changes in the brain that can be caused by Alzheimer’s disease, Frontotemporal Dementia, Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body disease and other neurological illnesses. As life expectancy is extended, a corresponding increase in these disorders means there is a growing need for academic physicians serving these populations in clinical care, education, and research. Vanderbilt is on the forefront of interdisciplinary care for Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology, with a particular emphasis on research. Expert faculty members work interdepartmentally to evaluate symptoms and discover ways to diagnose and manage symptoms through clinical and family interviews, neurologic exam, neuropsychological testing, neuroimaging, laboratory work, and an abundance of ongoing research. This commitment to discovery medicine enables faculty to offer breakthrough management options for patients and their families.
Both the Huntington’s Disease Clinic and the Frontotemporal Dementia Clinic have been designated as Centers of Excellence. Each of these clinics are dedicated to providing not only symptom management, but also education, coordinated care, support groups, and other resources for patients and their families.
All of the clinicians in this division lead and collaborate on clinical research (see details below). In addition to faculty experts and frequent clinical trials in such diverse conditions as Huntington’s disease and Lewy Body disease, Vanderbilt is also home to expertise in neuro-imaging, an invaluable resource for physicians and their patients.
The Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Division specializes in clinical and lab-based investigation, assessing therapeutic outcomes in neurodegenerative disorders through the use of innovative cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging tools. Much of this division’s research focuses on the intersection of neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration. Special emphasis is given to patient-based, individualized study, quantifying the severity of these diseases in each patient and discovering neurological markers for the burden of the disease. Many studies are executed in collaboration with other divisions and departments. Vanderbilt was one of the first institutions to study the glymphatic system as it relates to neurodegenerative disease, and was also an early adapter of intrathecal drug delivery.
Highlights of current areas of research include:
- Cognition and movement disorders (Read more about the Claassen lab)
- Risk and prevention, early detection, resilience, and clinical trials in Alzheimer’s disease (Read more at Memory and Alzheimer’s Center)
- Neuroanatomy and cognition processes associated with impairment in belief, morality and free will (Read more about the Darby lab)
Read more details about research in the Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology division on the research summary page.
Education & Training
Trainees in the Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Division work alongside some of the field’s leading clinicians and researchers, gaining invaluable technical knowledge as well as passion for discovery medicine. Residents and fellows learn at the intersection of compassionate clinical care and cutting-edge, life-changing research.
Vanderbilt offers a Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Fellowship each year.
Recent and Notable Publications
To view recent publications, visit the faculty profile pages.