Bick Research Lab

About Our Research

The Bick neurophysiology lab at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is led by neurosurgeon scientist Sarah Bick, MD. The focus of the lab is using human neurophysiology and imaging methods to understand the neural signaling underlying cognitive and psychiatric processes with the ultimate goal of developing novel neuromodulation techniques.


Corticostriatal circuitry in Parkinson’s disease nonmotor symptoms

Parkinson’s disease motor symptoms are caused by decreased striatal dopaminergic input leading to abnormal activity in motor corticostriatal circuitry. Our hypothesis is that a similar mechanism in parallel cognitive and affective corticostriatal circuitry contributes to Parkinson’s nonmotor symptoms. We use intracranial recordings from patients undergoing deep brain stimulation surgery as well as imaging techniques such as fMRI and PET to study the neural activity underlying memory, impulsivity, and emotions, and how this is altered in Parkinson’s patients.

Neural networks underlying psychiatric disorders

This project seeks to use human intracranial EEG recordings to understand brain circuits involved in anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and impulsive behaviors.

Clinical outcome studies

The lab is interested in understanding symptomatology of functional neurosurgery patients and how we can improve outcomes in functional neurosurgery procedures. Current projects include understanding factors underlying cognitive and psychiatric symptoms in movement disorders patients and better understanding the relationship between DBS surgery and cognitive and psychiatric symptoms

Faculty & Staff

  • bick
    Sarah K. Bick, MD is an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Vanderbilt. She received her BA from Harvard University and her MD from Vanderbilt. She completed residency and functional neurosurgery fellowship training at Massachusetts General Hospital prior to joining the faculty at Vanderbilt.

  • Paulo
    Danika L. Paulo, MD is a current PGY-5 Neurosurgery resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who is spending her elective subspecialty time focusing on functional neurosurgery. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from Boston College in 2012, Doctor of Medicine degree from Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in 2017 and is anticipated to complete neurosurgical residency in 2024. Her research interests include psychiatric neurosurgery, epilepsy, brain connectivity, neurophysiology, and surgical outcomes.

  • Helen Qian is an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt majoring in Neuroscience. She plans to apply to medical school after graduation.

  • Ali Hussain is an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt majoring in Neuroscience, cognitive studies, and psychology.

•  Dr. Bick Pubmed

Positions Available
• Positions may be available for graduate students and post docs. Please email with interest.