Frank Hillary



  1. Ph.D., 2000, Drexel University


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A primary focus of my research is to examine the influences of injury and disease on functional brain organization. This research includes both behavioral and MRI-based techniques and examines both acute and long-term patient outcome variables. MRI-based techniques provide the opportunity to examine alterations in the neural substrate and to correlate basic brain changes with variables of cognitive and functional outcome. In my laboratory, MRI methods include proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy to examine neurometabolism, diffusion tensor imaging to examine structural white matter changes, and functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine cognitive deficits. Currently, with investigators at Hershey Medical Center, we have initiated a study examining basic brain changes associated with severe brain trauma over the course of the first 6 months of recovery. A second goal of my work is validate functional MRI techniques in individuals sustaining severe brain trauma. There is already an emerging literature employing fMRI to examine a myriad of deficits caused by brain trauma. However, the validity of these findings remains in question due to the potential influence of brain injury on cerebral blood flow (the basis of the fMRI signal). With funding from the NIH-NINDS, we are now examining how brain trauma alters the fMRI signal. This work aims to provide investigators with improved methods for appropriate interpretation of fMRI data sets in studies of TBI as well as other clinical samples.

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