Ronald J. Killiany, Ph.D.
Dr. Killiany’s research has been focused on exploring the relationship between brain structure and behavior. To a large extent the studies have focused on the morphological changes that take place in the brain during aging and disease processes in order to gain some insights into the mechanisms behind the specific cognitive changes that characterize these processes. Initial work began in graduate school with developmental studies to determine specific structure/function relationships in the memory system of the non-human primate as a model for human development. This theme continued into postdoctoral studies of normal aging and cerebrovascular disease using non-human primates, where the focus has been on characterizing the cognitive changes taking place. In collaboration with investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital our studies began using structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to assess volumetric changes in the brains of healthy elderly and cognitively impaired human subjects. As these collaborative studies evolved, functional techniques such as fMRI (functional magnetic resonance images) SPECT (single photon emission computerized tomography) and PET (Positron Emission Tomography) scanning were included. This work continues and has changed focus somewhat in the recent years to include studies aimed at exploring the value of MRI in predicting which subjects will progress to develop cognitive decline of Alzheimer’s disease and which will remain cognitively stable.
Throughout current ongoing studies non-human primate models and clinical populations of subjects are used. The animal models provide a basis for understanding cognitive changes, volumetric analyses with modern imaging and classic morphology. The human based studies provide the grounding for the clinical profile, cognitive profile and analysis with modern imaging.
Dr. Killiany is also the course director for GMS AN 802 Experimental Design and Statistics.