Neuropsychology, aging and cognition

This research group focuses on the early detection and treatment of illnesses related to dementia and aging, with ongoing research at all three Mayo Clinic campuses. Additionally, the group collaborates with colleagues in behavioral neurology, neuropsychiatry, neuroimaging, neuropathology, molecular biology and pharmacology at Mayo Clinic and other institutions.

The Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, the Traumatic Brain Injury Model System Program and the Udall Center of Excellence in Parkinson's Disease Research are among Mayo Clinic's multidisciplinary and translational research programs.


  • Mild cognitive impairment (MCI). These projects examine MCI as a pre-dementia risk state for all dementias, including Alzheimer's disease and Lewy body dementia. The group has developed clinical tools, neuropsychological norms (including African-American norms) and functional neuroimaging strategies that aid in identifying cognitive, clinical and sleep profiles for early detection of dementing diseases.
  • Behavioral interventions for MCI and brain injury. Group members also engage in studies on behavioral interventions that mitigate normal cognitive aging and compensate for MCI deficits. Similarly, rehabilitation psychologists examine improvement in functional outcomes for individuals with acquired brain injury who participate in a comprehensive day treatment program.
  • Cognitive and behavioral impairments. Additional studies investigate cognitive and behavioral impairments associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, as well as genetic risk of Alzheimer's disease and the association of caloric intake, physical exercise and cognitively stimulating activities with cognitive aging and MCI.
  • Pediatric investigations. This group is developing evidenced-based approaches to neuropsychological assessment, including algorithms that reliably assess change across time and effectively promote interventions for children and adolescents with traumatic brain injury. Researchers are also exploring cognition in Niemann-Pick disease, multiple sclerosis and the neurodevelopment of children exposed to anesthesia.

Adult investigators

Pediatric investigators

  • Tanya M. Brown, Ph.D., L.P.
  • Michael J. Zaccariello, Ph.D., L.P.


Investigator & Role Grant Title Funding Source Duration
Michael J. Zaccariello, Ph.D., L.P., co-investigator Neurodevelopment of Children Exposed to Anesthesia: A Population-Based Assessment National Institutes of Health 04/2012-03/2017
Glenn E. Smith, Ph.D., L.P., co-investigator Estrogenic Effects on Imaging Markers of Cognitive Health in Sex-Specific Risk for Vascular Dysfunction and Cognitive Decline National Institute on Aging 09/2012-08/2017
Thomas Bergquist, Ph.D., L.P., co-investigator Department of Education, Mayo Clinic Traumatic Brain Injury Model System Center National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research 10/2012-09/2017
Mary M. Machulda, Ph.D., L.P., co-investigator PIB PET Scanning in Speech and Language Based Dementias National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders 02/2010-01/2015
  • Tanya M. Brown, Ph.D., L.P., co-investigator
  • Michael J. Zaccariello, Ph.D., L.P., co-investigator
Lysosomal Disease Network (LDN): Niemann-Pick Disease, Type C in LDN, a Longitudinal Study of Cognition in Subjects With Niemann-Pick Disease, Type C National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke 09/2009-08/2014