Geriatric Psychiatry Research

Vanderbilt Center for Cognitive Medicine

The Vanderbilt Center for Cognitive Medicine is home to much research in the Division of Geriatric Psychiatry, although its faculty extend beyond the Geriatric Division.  Directed by Dr. Paul Newhouse, this is an interdisciplinary center focused on better understanding the cognitive basis for neuropsychiatric disorders and developing new therapeutic strategies to enhance brain and cognitive function.  Research in the Center focuses on memory problems with aging, including Alzheimer’s disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and cognitive difficulties arising from medical problems such as critical care and chemotherapy.  It also includes research in depression, schizophrenia, and autism.

Kimberly Albert, PhD

Dr. Albert's research focuses on the systems and behavioral neuroscience of early cognitive changes in pathological cognitive aging. Her work examines attention as a primary cognitive process that may be an early marker of Alzheimer's Disease risk, an effective target for global cognitive enhancement, and amenable to a number of potential intervention strategies. Dr. Albert’s research approaches neuroimaging and mobile assessment of subjective and objective cognitive function to better understand early brain network changes in Alzheimer's Disease, develop markers of risk, and target novel interventions to support cognitive maintenance in aging.   

Alexander C. Conley, Ph.D.

Dr. Conley is a cognitive neuroscientist at the Center for Cognitive Medicine, whose research has been focused on risk and treatment of cognitive neurodegeneration. Dr. Conley’s research involves a range a cognitive tasks and functional neuroimaging measures including EEG, MRI, and PET imaging. Dr. Conley aims to identify risk factors that may increase vulnerability to future cognitive pathology including Alzheimer’s disease, and to assist in the development of novel pharmacological and non-pharmacological interventions for the treatment of disorders of cognitive neurodegeneration.

Paul Newhouse, MD

Dr. Newhouse's research has focused on central nicotinic mechanisms in degenerative brain disorders and the role of nicotinic receptor systems in normal and disordered cognitive functioning in humans. He has also focused attention on the development of novel nicotinic agents for clinical use.  Another major focus includes studying the interaction of estrogen and central cholinergic, catecholaminergic, and serotonergic systems in relation to cognitive and emotional aging in the elderly and novel pharmacologic-imaging methodologies. Other interests include treatment of behavioral disturbances in the elderly, and development of effective novel agents for the treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders of the elderly.

Warren D. Taylor, M.D., M.H.Sc.

Dr. Taylor directs the Laboratory of Affective and Cognitive Imaging (LACI), a translational research program focused on late-life depression.  The laboratory focuses on better understanding neurobiological contributions to the development of and perpetuation of depressive disorders in older adults.  This clinical neuroscience focus strives to better understand how neurobiological differences influence critical clinical outcomes, such as the response to antidepressant treatment or long-term maintenance of remission following successful treatment using a range of methodologies including MRI and PET imaging, neuropsychological testing, EEG, ecological assessments, and deep symptom phenotyping.  More recently this work has expanded to examine novel pharmacological approaches to treating depression in older adults.