The mission of the Division of Cognitive Neurology/Neuropsychology is to find ways to improve the functions of the mind and the brain with a focus is on aspects of speech, language (including the conceptual abilities required for thought), and learning and memory. Most recently, the Division has started investigating the psychological mechanisms involved in word production and in executive control in both typically developing individuals and those with aphasia and broadening the understanding of executive disorders and potential explicit and implicit ways of teaching and guiding behaviors.
The Division works with individuals with autism (especially those with little or no speech), aphasia, and healthy individuals with a range of abilities. The Division manages a full-time educational program for a nonverbal individual with low-functioning autism, focusing on communication, cognitive control, and associated issues of individuals with autism and related conditions. The educational program has been expanded to include other individuals with autism and related conditions and activities that foster social interaction.
The methods used to investigate the conditions and individuals include neuropsychological assessment (both clinical and research), specialized behavioral tasks, pupillometry, eye-movement recording, event-related potential measures, and computational modeling. Behavioral methods (specialized learning and teaching techniques) as well as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) have been used to try to improve cognitive and brain function.
The Division includes a diverse, multidisciplinary team of speech and language professionals, educators, research and clinical psychologists, biostatisticians, library researchers, and a behavioral neurologist/cognitive neuroscientist. The Division’s work has been funded by individuals and their families and by groups ranging from the U.S. federal government (the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense) to private foundations.
In 1982, Dr. Barry Gordon founded the Division to offer a clinical service to diagnose and manage problems in behavioral neurology and to conduct research to understand and possibly treat conditions such as disorders of language (aphasia) and of memory. The Division, known more colloquially as The Memory Clinic, offered both consultative and neurologic primary care services. The Division later became part of Hopkins’ first Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center grant and carried out clinical trials of drugs to treat early, mild Alzheimer’s disease. The Division began research initiatives in 1996 to try to enhance speech perception, communication, and ultimately language production in individuals with autism. Its current structure was established in 2000, when Dr. Gordon received an Endowed Chair in Therapeutic Cognitive Neuroscience and a substantial gift established a Therapeutic Cognitive Neuroscience Fund.
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