Division of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurosciences

Department of Neurology, University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

About the Division

The Division of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurosciences (formerly the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Neurosciences) is in the Department of Neurology and the Jacobs Neurological Institute at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.  The division was founded in 1987 by Dr. David W. Shucard, and has maintained a  major research focus on the relationship between the brain and cognition.  Clinical services are also offered and include neuropsychology and psychotherapy, with an emphasis on patients with neurological disorders.  The measures used in neuropsychology and clinical psychology are incorporated into some of the major research projects of the Division.  The Division is also affiliated with the Departments of Psychology and Pediatrics and the Sleep Medicine Centers of Western New York.

The scope of the research conducted by members of the Division is broad and addresses issues in neuropsychology, and cognitive and behavioral neurosciences.  Research interests include: disorders that affect cognitive function (e.g. Multiple Sclerosis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, sleep disorders/sleep apnea, posttraumatic stress disorder), neuropsychological test development, working memory, attention, cognitive sex-differences and brain function, cognitive development, quality of life in diseases such as MS, SLE, and Sleep Disorders.  Our current primary areas of interest involve understanding the association between brain function and cognitive deficits seen in Multiple Sclerosis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. The work in SLE is funded by NIH.  The work in MS is funded by the National MS Society.

Although much of the research is disease oriented, normative studies are also conducted. The paradigms that are being used to study clinical populations were initially developed in non-clinical studies. The research employs the following techniques: neuropsychological assessment and cognitive measurement, dense electrode electrophysiological measurement (EEG, ERP, etc, allows for recording electroencephalographic activity from 256 scalp sites), imaging (PET quantitative and functional MRI).  Animal studies are also conducted to address issues similar to those studied in humans.  For example, animal models have been used to study the effects of sustained hypoxia on learning and memory.  Much of the research is multidisciplinary and relies on collaborations with the Buffalo Neuroimaging and Analysis Center and the PET Center (both in the Department of Neurology), and across departments of the University (e.g., Physiology and Biophysics, Educational and Counseling Psychology, Medicine). The research faculty of the Division are recognized nationally and internationally for their work.

Research and clinical training/teaching are important functions of the Division. Our faculty train undergraduate and graduate students, medical students, medical residents, and neuropsychology postdoctoral fellows/residents. The neuropsychology residency program enjoys a national reputation and attracts outstanding residents form a nation-wide pool of applicants.

The clinical neuropsychology section is the most comprehensive in Erie County, servicing both inpatients and outpatients.  Because of the service’s close ties to Neurology as well as Psychiatry, a wide range of patients are referred for evaluation.  Expertise in the neuropsychology of MS is particularly strong.  The service is the primary source for neuropsychological assessment of brain injury in the region and provides consultation to the Buffalo Bills and Sabres concussion programs.

The psychotherapy service within the Division provides mental health treatment for patients with neurological disorders and chronic medical illness such as MS. Service is also provided for patients with PTSD and insomnia.  Because  of the scope of clinical and research areas housed within the Division, and  the availability of  collaborative possiblilities, unique opportunities are present for training and for examining research questions in new and creative ways.  More details about the Division and its members are presented below.

Primary Faculty and Fellows:  David W. Shucard, Ph.D. (Professor, Departments of Neurology, Pediatrics, and Psychology, Division Director), Ralph H.B. Benedict, Ph.D. (Professor of Neurology, Psychiatry and Psychology, Neuropsychology Residency Director), Janet L. Shucard, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of Neurology, Associate Division Director).