Traumatic Brain Injury Research

Research Focused

The Traumatic Brain Injury Center at Vanderbilt is dedicated to advancing the quality of life for our patients and improving support for family members through research and evidenced based care. It is our mission to ensure that every patient understands their diagnosis and is given every opportunity to succeed. Our team recognizes that patience, hope, resilience, and understanding are necessary to heal, and we are here to help.

Brain Registry

The Brain Registry is currently being done by the researchers in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. It is being done to conduct a study on the long-term outcomes of acquired brain injury by establishing a patient registry. The registry will gather and analyze data critical for developing brain injury treatment and prevention strategies, identifying research and education priorities, and supporting services that improve patients' quality of life.

The purpose of this research is to gain a better understanding of the consequences of certain brain injuries, and especially to understand how these injuries affect thinking abilities. The research involves testing of various cognitive abilities (memory, language), and/or a magnetic resonance (MR) scan of the brain. There are no costs to you. We make every effort to schedule research-related visits at convenience.

We are currently inviting individuals 18-55 with a history of brain injury to participate in this study. Compensation provided. This is a scientific research study, and not part of routine medical care. There are no costs to participants for these research-related procedures

To get more information about this study, or to apply to be apart of it, please email Melissa Duff at

Duff Labs

Dr. Duff’s lab conducts basic and applied research across two main themes: 1)Characterizing memory and language processing abilities in following traumatic brain (TBI) injury and; 2) Identification of long-term outcomes and recovery patterns in acquired brain injury and the development of interventions for disorders of memory, learning, and communication. Methodologically, the lab combines neuropsychological, neuroimaging, and eye-tracking methods together with behavioral methods. We work to address questions about the contribution of distinct forms of memory to various aspects of communication and social interaction and the dynamic network of neural and cognitive systems that support memory and language in the everyday communicative settings. The lab is also home to the Brain Injury Patient Registry, a repository of demographic information, and state of the art neuropsychological and neuroanatomical data from individuals with focal lesions and traumatic brain injury, which serves as a unique resource for conducting large-scale basic and translational research in the area of acquired brain injury.

Research Projects at Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Melissa Duff, Ph.D., SLP-CCC



Melissa Duff, Ph.D., SLP-CCC

Multiple TBI Research Projects

Sex and Gender Differences in Emotion Recognition and Theory of Mind After TBI: A Narrative Review and Directions for Future Research

A growing body of literature has examined sex differences in a variety of outcomes from moderate-severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), including outcomes for social functioning. Social functioning is an area in which adults with TBI have significant long-term challenges (1–4), and a better understanding of sex and gender differences in this domain may have a significant clinical impact. This paper presents a brief narrative review of current evidence regarding sex differences in one aspect of social functioning in adults with TBI: social cognition, specifically affect recognition and Theory of Mind (ToM)....Continue Reading


Bennett Landman, Ph.D


Bennett Landman, Ph.D

Mobile App QRL

Mobile App Description

As an initial member of the Vanderbilt Institute on Surgery and Engineering, the Medical-image Analysis and Statistical Interpretation (MASI) lab seeks to transform medical imaging from pixels to information to improve patient care. We lead Personalized Medicine with Medical Imaging Informatics (PM2I2) efforts in translational research to explore innovative, clinically useful techniques...Continue Reading


Dr. Mayur Patel, M.D.

Dr. Mayur Patel, M.D.


The Critical Illness, Brain Dysfunction and Survivorship (CIBS) Center

Dr. Patel's research focuses on getting answers that matter to trauma victims, ICU survivors, and their health-care providers. His current research interests focus on brain dysfunction and critical illness, as related to traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), long-term cognitive impairment, dementia, and other aspects of ICU survivorship...Continue Reading


Tonia S. Rex, Ph.D


Tonia S. Rex, Ph.D

TBI Research


Emotional disorders are a common outcome from mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) in humans, but their pathophysiological basis is poorly understood. We have developed a mouse model of closed-head blast injury using an air pressure wave delivered to a small area on one side of the cranium, to create mild TBI...Continue Reading