You are here: Home / Directory / Peter Arnett

Peter Arnett

Peter Arnett

Professor of Psychology

352 Moore Building
Office Phone: (814) 863-1733


  1. Ph. D., University of Wisconsin-Madison 1992


Research Interests

In my lab we focus on research issues relating to clinical neuropsychology. In this field of study, we attempt to understand higher level cognitive processes (like attention, memory, speeded information processing, etc.) in the brain, particularly in individuals with neurological diseases. We have two broad lines of research that we have pursued here. One pertains to neuropsychological aspects of multiple sclerosis (MS). MS is a disorder of the central nervous system that results in the destruction of the white matter (in particular, the myelin) in the brain. This destruction is thought to occur through some autoimmune process but the mechanism underlying that process is currently not well understood. MS typically strikes people in their 20's and 30's, just as they are starting their careers/families, and patients typically live many years with their symptoms, so it is a particularly devastating disease. It affects women more than men by about a 2:1 ratio, is more common in geographical regions farther away from the equator, and tends to differentially affect individuals of Western/Northern European ancestry.

In our research on MS, there is a special emphasis on contributors to depression, cognitive functioning, fatigue, and general quality of life in this common neurological disorder. We have also focused on the possible contribution of secondary factors like slow speech and poor visual acuity to neuropsychological test performance in these patients. Additionally, we recently completed a study, funded by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, that explores structural and functional neuroimaging indices associated with cognitive and emotional functioning in MS. Furthermore, we have recently begun to explore genetic factors that may predict cognitive and emotional outcomes in MS.

For our concussion research, my students and I run the sports concussion program for Penn State, something that involves neuropsychological testing of many of the athletes at Penn State involved in contact sports. We are especially interested in predictors of outcome following concussion, including motivation at baseline, cognitive variability, premorbid personality characteristics, and cognitive reserve. We have also recently begun to explore genetic factors that predict concussion outcome. Finally, we are part of a cross-cutting effort to study sports-related concussion through collaboration among the Big Ten and Ivy League schools. 

Both of these research programs provide students with the opportunity to develop their clinical skills and gain experience with two very different clinical populations, while at the same time exploring research questions that have both theoretical and applied implications. 

More detailed descriptions of these research programs can be found by clicking on the following link here  (sports-related concussion) or here (MS).

Recent Publications

Select MS Publications: 

Arnett, P. A., Rao, S. M., Bernardin, L., Grafman, J., Yetkin, F. Z., & Lobeck, L. (1994).  Relationship between frontal lobe lesions and Wisconsin Card Sorting Test performance in patients with multiple sclerosis.  Neurology44 (3), 420-425.   
Arnett, P.A., Higginson, C.H., Voss, W.D., Wright, B., Bender, W.I., & Wurst, J.M., & Tippin, J.M.  (1999).  Depression in multiple sclerosis: Relationship to capacity-demanding memory and attentional functioning. Neuropsychology, 13, 434-446.  

Bruce, J.M., & Arnett, P.A.  (2005).  Depressed MS patients exhibit affective memory biases during and after a list learning task that suppresses higher-order encoding strategies.  Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 11, 514-521.  

Arnett, P.A., Smith, M.M. Barwick, F.H., Benedict, R.H.B., & Ahlstrom, B.  (2008). Oralmotor slowing in multiple sclerosis:  Relationship to complex neuropsychological tasks requiring an oral response.  

Arnett, P.A., Barwick, F.H., & Beeney, J.E.  (2008).  Depression in Multiple Sclerosis:  Review and Theoretical Proposal.  Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 14, 691-724.  

Bruce, J.M., Bruce, A.S., & Arnett, P.A.  (2010).  Response variability is associated with self-reported cognitive fatigue in multiple sclerosis.  Neuropsychology, 24, 77–83.

Arnett, P.A. (2010).  Does Cognitive Reserve Apply to Multiple Sclerosis? Neurology. Editorial comment on the article:  Intellectual enrichment lessens the effect of brain atrophy on learning and memory in MS. Neurology, 74, 1934–1935.  

Strober, L.B., & Arnett, P.A.  (2010).  Assessment of depression in multiple sclerosis: Development of a “trunk and branch” model.  The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 24, 1146–1166.  

Rabinowitz, A.R., Fisher, A.J., & Arnett, P.A.  (2011).  Neurovegetative Symptoms in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis: Fatigue, Not Depression  Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 17, 46-55. 

Arnett, P.A., & Strober, L.B.  (2011).  Cognitive and Neurobehavioural Features in Multiple Sclerosis.  Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics. 11, 411–424. 

Vargas, G.A., & Arnett, P.A.  (2013).  Attributional Style in Multiple Sclerosis: Examining the Learned Helplessness Model.  International Journal of MS Care, 15, 81-89.  

Arnett, P.A., & Brochet, B.  (2013).  How can cognitive reserve in multiple sclerosis inform clinical care? Neurology, 80, 1724–1725.

Ukueberuwa, D.M., & Arnett, P.A.  (2014).  Evaluating the Role of Coping Style as a Moderator of Fatigue and Risk for Future Cognitive Impairment in Multiple Sclerosis.  Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. 

Strober, L.B., & Arnett, P.A.  (2015).  Depression in multiple sclerosis: The utility of common self-report instruments and development of a disease-specific measure.  Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.  DOI: 10.1080/13803395.2015.1063591. 

Cadden, M., & Arnett, P.A.  (in press).  Cognition, Fatigue, & Motor Functioning: Factors Associated with Employment Status in Individuals with MS.  International Journal of MS Care.  

Fernández-Jiménez, E., & Arnett, P.A.  (2014).  Impact of neurological impairment, depression, cognitive function, and coping on quality of life of people with multiple sclerosis: A relative importance analysis.  Multiple Sclerosis Journal.  DOI: 10.1177/ 1352458514562439.  

Select Sports Concussion Publications:

Bailey, C.M., Echemendia, R.J., & Arnett, P.A.  (2006). The Impact of Motivation on Neuropsychological Performance in Sports-Related Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.  Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 12, 475-484.  

Rosenbaum, A.A., & Arnett, P.A. (2010).  The Development of a Survey to Examine Knowledge about and Attitudes toward Concussion in High School Students.  Journal of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology, 32, 44-55.  

Barwick, F., Arnett, P., & Slobounov, S.  (2012).  EEG correlates of fatigue during administration of a neuropsychological test battery. Clinical Neurophysiology, 123, 278 – 284.

Ramanathan, D.N., Rabinowitz, A.R., Barwick, F.H., & Arnett, P.A.  (2012). Validity of Affect Measurements in Evaluating Symptom Reporting in Athletes.  Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 18,101-107. 

Rabinowitz, A.R., & Arnett, P.A. (2012).  Reading Based IQ Estimates and Actual Premorbid Cognitive Performance: Discrepancies in a College Athlete Sample. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 18, 139–143.

Rabinowitz, A.R., & Arnett, P.A. (2013).  Intraindividual Cognitive Variability Before and After Sports-related Concussion. Neuropsychology. 27, 481–490.  

Arnett, P., Rabinowitz, R., Vargas, G., Ukueberuwa, D., & Merritt, V., & Meyer, J. (2014). Neuropsychological Testing in Sports Concussion Management: An Evidence-Based Model When Baseline is Unavailable.  Invited chapter in: Concussion in Athletics: From Brain to Behavior.  S. Slobounov & W Sebastianelli (Eds.).  p. 35-48, (Ch. 3).  Springer.

Vargas, G.A., Rabinowitz, A.R., Meyer, J.E., & Arnett, P.A.  (2015).  Baseline Predictors of Post-Concussion Depressive Symptoms in Collegiate Athletes.  Journal of Athletic Training, 50, 250-255.  doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-50.3.02. 

Meyer, J.E., & Arnett, P.A.  (2015).  Validation of the Affective Word List as a Measure of Verbal Learning and Memory.  Journal of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology, 37, 316–324. 

Merritt, V.C., & Arnett, P.A.  (2014).  Pre-Morbid Predictors of Post-Concussion Symptoms in Collegiate Athletes.  Journal of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology, 36, 1098–1111.

Merritt, V.C., Rabinowitz, A.R., & Arnett, P.A.  (2015).  Personality Factors and Symptom Reporting at Baseline in Collegiate Athletes.  Developmental Neuropsychology, 40, 45–50.  DOI: 10.1080/87565641.2014.979928. 

Meyer, J.E., & Arnett, P.A. (2015).  Changes in Symptoms in Concussed and Non-Concussed Athletes following Neuropsychological Assessment.  Developmental Neuropsychology, 40, 24–28.  DOI: 10.1080/87565641.2014.1001065. 

Merritt, V.C., Meyer, J.E., & Arnett, P.A.  (2015).  A Novel Approach to Classifying Post-Concussion Symptoms: The Application of a New Framework to the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale.  Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology.



Research Interests:

Clinical (Adult and Child):
Return to Top