Research Teams

Neurocognitive Research Group

The Neurocognitive Research Group (NRG) is interested in the neurophysiology and cognitive functioning of the human brain in both healthy and diseased states. To that end, we pursue several research aims that encompass the measurement of human cognition, emotion, and neurophysiology. We typically ask subjects to complete behavioral tasks in the laboratory, the neurosurgical operating room, or the epilepsy monitoring unit. These behavioral computer tasks are designed to investigate circuits involved in decision-making, motor control, learning, and the representation of affective stimuli. We often target structures encountered during deep brain stimulation for the treatment of Parkinson's disease, Essential Tremor, and Tourette Syndrome, as well as subcortical (i.e. amygdala) and cortical sites in patients undergoing language localization for the treatment of epilepsy or tumor resection.

Read more:

  • University of Louisville Psychology Department
  • Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Neurology, Neurosurgery), Nashville, TN
  • Vanderbilt University (Psychology), Nashville, TN
  • University of Amsterdam (Psychology), Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Sports Cognition Group

Elite athletes at the college and professional levels possess exceptional physical and technical skills. Their brains appear to be wired to process visual information, execute split-second decisions, and control and adapt their motor systems with exceptional skill and precision. Our laboratory focuses on what makes these elite athletes' brains and cognitive systems so unique and capable of performing with the speed and precision required to compete at the highest level. We are also interested in quantifying how athletes differ in their cognitive instincts and skills, how an athlete's cognitive capacities can be combined with his or her physical skills to understand specific performance tendencies, patterns of mental mistakes, and strategies for using these insights to engage more effective decision-making and training. Using powerful methods from the cognitive sciences to quantify athletic instincts, we show that elite athletes possess several dynamic, split-second cognitive skills that outperform their non-athlete age counterparts. Athlete's brains are wired for fast, precise cognition. Our current database includes thousands of elite collegiate and professional athletes spanning football, baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball, basketball, lacrosse, and golf.

Spinal Cord Injury Laboratory

The Spinal Cord Injury Lab, led by Dr. Maxwell Boakye, works to create imaginative therapies and make groundbreaking discoveries in basic, translational, and clinical research. Our research focuses on neurophysiology, neuroimaging, neurobiology, neuroplasticity, neuromodulation, and the biology of spinal cord injury systems to cure paralysis, end pain and suffering, and make a lasting difference in the health and quality of life for patients with spinal cord injury. Our goal is to positively impact the spinal cord community and accelerate the translation of neurorestorative, neuroprotective, and neuroregenerative therapies into clinical practice.

Outcomes Research Laboratory

The Outcomes Research Lab, led by Dr. Maxwell Boakye, exists to use health services research and health economics methodologies to illuminate overall trends and variations in neurosurgical care. The lab considers the cost and comparative effectiveness of alternative neurosurgical treatment options, health resource utilization, and creates predictive models of neurosurgical outcomes to develop an evidence base to guide quality improvement in neurosurgery. The Outcomes Research Lab seeks to increase overall value in neurosurgery including, but not limited to: improving the administrative processes, outcomes, neurosurgical decision making, patient health-related quality of life and satisfaction, neurosurgical population health, reduction of disparities in access to neurosurgical care and outcomes, and implementation of evidence-based policies.

Research Faculty

Brandon Ally, PhD

Assistant Professor

Nelleke van Wouwe, PhD, M.Sc.

Assistant Professor

Scott Wylie, PhD

Assistant Professor

Postdoctoral Researchers


 Adam Gifford, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

 Jessica L. McDonnell, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher