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Associate Professor


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Education and Training


My primary research interests are in age-related cognitive decline, and cognitive aspects of skilled movements in stroke and neurodegenerative disease utilizing neuropsychological, behavioral, kinematic and functional neuroimaging techniques. Through experiments with patients with unilateral stroke, we characterized subtypes of limb apraxia based on lesion location to elucidate the distributed modular network subserving complex movements and the bilateral nature of spatiotemporal aspects of skilled movements. Recent work has focused on multisensory models of cognitive compensation and stimulation that offer promise for harnessing plasticity in aging and functional recovery following stroke. Ongoing research in Parkinson’s disease (PD) focuses on mild cognitive impairment, and supports pathophysiological mechanisms in PD extending outside the nigrostriatal circuit, providing a basis for non-dopaminergic biomarkers signaling early cognitive progression

Research/Clinical Keywords

apraxia, music cognition, Parkinson's disease, dopamine, multisensory, mild cognitive impairment, neuropsychology, cognitive aging, neurodegeneration

Highlighted Publications

Hanna-Pladdy B, Pahwa R, Lyons KE. Paradoxical effect of dopamine medication on cognition in Parkinson's disease: relationship to side of motor onset. J Int Neuropsychol Soc. 2015 Apr;21(4):259-70. PubMed PMID: 25923830; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4493897.

Hanna-Pladdy B, Gajewski B. Recent and past musical activity predicts cognitive aging variability: direct comparison with general lifestyle activities. Front Hum Neurosci. 2012; 6:198. PubMed PMID: 22833722; PubMed Central PMCID:PMC3400047.

Hanna-Pladdy B, MacKay A. The relation between instrumental musical activity and cognitive aging. Neuropsychology. 2011 May; 25(3):378-86. PubMed PMID: 21463047; PubMed Central PMCID:PMC4354683

Hanna-Pladdy B, Heilman KM, Foundas AL. Ecological implications of ideomotor apraxia: evidence from physical activities of daily living. Neurology. 2003 Feb 11;60(3):487-90. PubMed PMID: 12578932.

Hanna-Pladdy B, Heilman KM, Foundas AL. Cortical and subcortical contributions to ideomotor apraxia: analysis of task demands and error types. Brain. 2001 Dec;124(Pt 12):2513-27. PubMed PMID: 11701604.

Grants and Contracts

NICHD/ NCMRR K01 HD060759 - 2010/07/22 -2016/10/31
Hanna-Pladdy, Brenda (Principal Investigator)

Plasticity of Audiovisual Movement Representations: Implications for Limb Apraxia

Major Goals: To elucidate the neural basis of a potential rehabilitation paradigm for ideomotor apraxia aimed at improving functional skills and increasing independence for stroke survivors.

NINDS R01 1NS098249 - 2017/08/15 – 2022/05/31
Hanna-Pladdy, Brenda (Principal Investigator)

Functional MRI Biomarkers Predicting Cognitive Progression in PD

Major Goals: The study of predictive validity of early cognitive deficits in PD, and identification of functional neuroimaging markers signaling more rapid conversion to dementia.

In the News

Scientific American, September 21, 2011.  Musicians Stay Sharp,

Psychology Today, September 26, 2011. Are musicians smarter than you?

US News & World Report, April 25, 2011. Music training may help keep aging brain healthy.

Huffington Post, July 20, 2011. Musicians are probably smarter than the rest of us.

Daily Mail, April 21, 2011. Playing music as a child helps you stay sharp in old age.

The Telegraph, April 21, 2011. Learning to play music as a child boosts brain as a pensioner.

USA Today, August 2012;

WebMD Magazine, September 2011. Face the music.

Huffington Post, September 2012;

US News & World Report, August 2, 2012;

CNBC News, September, 2012;

CNN 2103;

National Geographic 2014;

MSN Health & Fitness 2016

AARP 2016;

visual Movement Representations: Implications for Limb Apraxia

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