Sandra Weintraub

Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, United States

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Publications (189)1307.42 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The mechanisms that contribute to selective vulnerability of the magnocellular basal forebrain cholinergic neurons in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, are not fully understood. Because age is the primary risk factor for Alzheimer's disease, mechanisms of interest must include age-related alterations in protein expression, cell type-specific markers and pathology. The present study explored the extent and characteristics of intraneuronal amyloid-β accumulation, particularly of the fibrillogenic 42-amino acid isoform, within basal forebrain cholinergic neurons in normal young, normal aged and Alzheimer's disease brains as a potential contributor to the selective vulnerability of these neurons using immunohistochemistry and western blot analysis. Amyloid-β1-42 immunoreactivity was observed in the entire cholinergic neuronal population regardless of age or Alzheimer's disease diagnosis. The magnitude of this accumulation as revealed by optical density measures was significantly greater than that in cortical pyramidal neurons, and magnocellular neurons in the globus pallidus did not demonstrate a similar extent of amyloid immunoreactivity. Immunoblot analysis with a panel of amyloid-β antibodies confirmed accumulation of high concentration of amyloid-β in basal forebrain early in adult life. There was no age- or Alzheimer-related alteration in total amyloid-β content within this region. In contrast, an increase in the large molecular weight soluble oligomer species was observed with a highly oligomer-specific antibody in aged and Alzheimer brains when compared with the young. Similarly, intermediate molecular weight oligomeric species displayed an increase in aged and Alzheimer brains when compared with the young using two amyloid-β42 antibodies. Compared to cortical homogenates, small molecular weight oligomeric species were lower and intermediate species were enriched in basal forebrain in ageing and Alzheimer's disease. Regional and age-related differences in accumulation were not the result of alterations in expression of the amyloid precursor protein, as confirmed by both immunostaining and western blot. Our results demonstrate that intraneuronal amyloid-β accumulation is a relatively selective trait of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons early in adult life, and increases in the prevalence of intermediate and large oligomeric assembly states are associated with both ageing and Alzheimer's disease. Selective intraneuronal amyloid-β accumulation in adult life and oligomerization during the ageing process are potential contributors to the degeneration of basal forebrain cholinergic neurons in Alzheimer's disease. © The Author (2015). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Guarantors of Brain. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com.
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    ABSTRACT: This human study is based on an established cohort of "SuperAgers," 80+-year-old individuals with episodic memory function at a level equal to, or better than, individuals 20-30 years younger. A preliminary investigation using structural brain imaging revealed a region of anterior cingulate cortex that was thicker in SuperAgers compared with healthy 50- to 65-year-olds. Here, we investigated the in vivo structural features of cingulate cortex in a larger sample of SuperAgers and conducted a histologic analysis of this region in postmortem specimens. A region-of-interest MRI structural analysis found cingulate cortex to be thinner in cognitively average 80+ year olds (n = 21) than in the healthy middle-aged group (n = 18). A region of the anterior cingulate cortex in the right hemisphere displayed greater thickness in SuperAgers (n = 31) compared with cognitively average 80+ year olds and also to the much younger healthy 50-60 year olds (p < 0.01). Postmortem investigations were conducted in the cingulate cortex in five SuperAgers, five cognitively average elderly individuals, and five individuals with amnestic mild cognitive impairment. Compared with other subject groups, SuperAgers showed a lower frequency of Alzheimer-type neurofibrillary tangles (p < 0.05). There were no differences in total neuronal size or count between subject groups. Interestingly, relative to total neuronal packing density, there was a higher density of von Economo neurons (p < 0.05), particularly in anterior cingulate regions of SuperAgers. These findings suggest that reduced vulnerability to the age-related emergence of Alzheimer pathology and higher von Economo neuron density in anterior cingulate cortex may represent biological correlates of high memory capacity in advanced old age. Copyright © 2015 the authors 0270-6474/15/351781-11$15.00/0.
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    ABSTRACT: Recently, a rare variant in the amyloid precursor protein gene (APP) was described in a population from Iceland. This variant, in which alanine is replaced by threonine at position 673 (A673T), appears to protect against late-onset Alzheimer disease (AD). We evaluated the frequency of this variant in AD cases and cognitively normal controls to determine whether this variant will significantly contribute to risk assessment in individuals in the United States. To determine the frequency of the APP A673T variant in a large group of elderly cognitively normal controls and AD cases from the United States and in 2 case-control cohorts from Sweden. Case-control association analysis of variant APP A673T in US and Swedish white individuals comparing AD cases with cognitively intact elderly controls. Participants were ascertained at multiple university-associated medical centers and clinics across the United States and Sweden by study-specific sampling methods. They were from case-control studies, community-based prospective cohort studies, and studies that ascertained multiplex families from multiple sources. Genotypes for the APP A673T variant were determined using the Infinium HumanExome V1 Beadchip (Illumina, Inc) and by TaqMan genotyping (Life Technologies). The A673T variant genotypes were evaluated in 8943 US AD cases, 10 480 US cognitively normal controls, 862 Swedish AD cases, and 707 Swedish cognitively normal controls. We identified 3 US individuals heterozygous for A673T, including 1 AD case (age at onset, 89 years) and 2 controls (age at last examination, 82 and 77 years). The remaining US samples were homozygous for the alanine (A673) allele. In the Swedish samples, 3 controls were heterozygous for A673T and all AD cases were homozygous for the A673 allele. We also genotyped a US family previously reported to harbor the A673T variant and found a mother-daughter pair, both cognitively normal at ages 72 and 84 years, respectively, who were both heterozygous for A673T; however, all individuals with AD in the family were homozygous for A673. The A673T variant is extremely rare in US cohorts and does not play a substantial role in risk for AD in this population. This variant may be primarily restricted to Icelandic and Scandinavian populations.
    JAMA Neurology 12/2014; DOI:10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.2157 · 7.01 Impact Factor
  • JAMA Neurology 12/2014; 71(12):1576-1577. DOI:10.1001/jamaneurol.2014.2805 · 7.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Hexanucleotide repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) are causative for frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and motor neuron disease (MND). Substantial phenotypic heterogeneity has been described in patients with these expansions. We set out to identify genetic modifiers of disease risk, age at onset, and survival after onset that may contribute to this clinical variability.
    Molecular Neurodegeneration 09/2014; 9(1):38. DOI:10.1186/1750-1326-9-38 · 5.29 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is caused by selective neurodegeneration of the language-dominant cerebral hemisphere; a language deficit initially arises as the only consequential impairment and remains predominant throughout most of the course of the disease. Agrammatic, logopenic and semantic subtypes, each reflecting a characteristic pattern of language impairment and corresponding anatomical distribution of cortical atrophy, represent the most frequent presentations of PPA. Such associations between clinical features and the sites of atrophy have provided new insights into the neurology of fluency, grammar, word retrieval, and word comprehension, and have necessitated modification of concepts related to the functions of the anterior temporal lobe and Wernicke's area. The underlying neuropathology of PPA is, most commonly, frontotemporal lobar degeneration in the agrammatic and semantic forms, and Alzheimer disease (AD) pathology in the logopenic form; the AD pathology often displays atypical and asymmetrical anatomical features consistent with the aphasic phenotype. The PPA syndrome reflects complex interactions between disease-specific neuropathological features and patient-specific vulnerability. A better understanding of these interactions might help us to elucidate the biology of the language network and the principles of selective vulnerability in neurodegenerative diseases. We review these aspects of PPA, focusing on advances in our understanding of the clinical features and neuropathology of PPA and what they have taught us about the neural substrates of the language network.
    Nature Reviews Neurology 09/2014; 10(10). DOI:10.1038/nrneurol.2014.159 · 14.10 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to provide quantitative measures of changes in cortical atrophy over a 2-year period associated with 3 subtypes of primary progressive aphasia (PPA) using whole-brain vertex-wise and region-of-interest (ROI) neuroimaging methods. The purpose was to quantitate disease progression, establish an empirical basis for clinical expectations, and provide outcome measures for therapeutic trials.
    Neurology 08/2014; DOI:10.1212/WNL.0000000000000824 · 8.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: New strategies are needed to help people cope with the repercussions of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. Patients and caregivers face different challenges, but here we investigated an intervention tailored for this combined population. The program focused on training skills such as attending to the present moment nonjudgmentally, which may help reduce maladaptive emotional responses. Patients participated together with caregivers in weekly group sessions over 8 weeks. An assessment battery was individually administered before and after the program. Pre-post analyses revealed several benefits, including increased quality-of-life ratings, fewer depressive symptoms, and better subjective sleep quality. In addition, participants indicated that they were grateful for the opportunity to learn to apply mindfulness skills and that they would recommend the program to others. In conclusion, mindfulness training can be beneficial for patients and their caregivers, it can be delivered at low cost to combined groups, and it is worthy of further investigation.
    American Journal of Alzheimer s Disease and Other Dementias 08/2014; DOI:10.1177/1533317514545377 · 1.43 Impact Factor
  • Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 08/2014; 62(8). DOI:10.1111/jgs.12967 · 4.22 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Language facilitates communication and efficient encoding of thought and experience. Because of its essential role in early childhood development, in educational achievement and in subsequent life adaptation, language was included as one of the subdomains in the NIH Toolbox for the Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function Cognition Battery (NIHTB-CB). There are many different components of language functioning, including syntactic processing (i.e., morphology and grammar) and lexical semantics. For purposes of the NIHTB-CB, two tests of language-a picture vocabulary test and a reading recognition test-were selected by consensus based on literature reviews, iterative expert input, and a desire to assess in English and Spanish. NIHTB-CB's picture vocabulary and reading recognition tests are administered using computer adaptive testing and scored using item response theory. Data are presented from the validation of the English versions in a sample of adults ages 20-85 years (Spanish results will be presented in a future publication). Both tests demonstrated high test-retest reliability and good construct validity compared to corresponding gold-standard measures. Scores on the NIH Toolbox measures were consistent with age-related expectations, namely, growth in language during early development, with relative stabilization into late adulthood. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1-10).
    Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society 06/2014; DOI:10.1017/S1355617714000411 · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study introduces a special series on validity studies of the Cognition Battery (CB) from the U.S. National Institutes of Health Toolbox for the Assessment of Neurological and Behavioral Function (NIHTB) (Gershon, Wagster et al., 2013) in an adult sample. This first study in the series describes the sample, each of the seven instruments in the NIHTB-CB briefly, and the general approach to data analysis. Data are provided on test-retest reliability and practice effects, and raw scores (mean, standard deviation, range) are presented for each instrument and the gold standard instruments used to measure construct validity. Accompanying papers provide details on each instrument, including information about instrument development, psychometric properties, age and education effects on performance, and convergent and discriminant construct validity. One study in the series is devoted to a factor analysis of the NIHTB-CB in adults and another describes the psychometric properties of three composite scores derived from the individual measures representing fluid and crystallized abilities and their combination. The NIHTB-CB is designed to provide a brief, comprehensive, common set of measures to allow comparisons among disparate studies and to improve scientific communication. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1-12).
    Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society 06/2014; 20(6):1-12. DOI:10.1017/S1355617714000320 · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Episodic memory is one of the most important cognitive domains that involves acquiring, storing and recalling new information. In this article, we describe a new measure developed for the NIH Toolbox, called the Picture Sequence Memory Test (PSMT) that is the first to examine episodic memory across the age range from 3 to 85. We describe the development of the measure and present validation data for ages 20 to 85. The PSMT involves presentation of sequences of pictured objects and activities in a fixed order on a computer screen and simultaneously verbally described, that the participant must remember and then reproduce over three learning trials. The results indicate good test-retest reliability and construct validity. Performance is strongly related to well-established "gold standard" measures of episodic memory and, as expected, much less well correlated with those of a measure of vocabulary. It shows clear decline with aging in parallel with a gold standard summary measure and relates to several other demographic factors and to self-reported general health status. The PSMT appears to be a reliable and valid test of episodic memory for adults, a finding similar to those found for the same measure with children. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1-9).
    Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society 06/2014; 20(6):1-9. DOI:10.1017/S1355617714000460 · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study describes psychometric properties of the NIH Toolbox Cognition Battery (NIHTB-CB) Composite Scores in an adult sample. The NIHTB-CB was designed for use in epidemiologic studies and clinical trials for ages 3 to 85. A total of 268 self-described healthy adults were recruited at four university-based sites, using stratified sampling guidelines to target demographic variability for age (20-85 years), gender, education, and ethnicity. The NIHTB-CB contains seven computer-based instruments assessing five cognitive sub-domains: Language, Executive Function, Episodic Memory, Processing Speed, and Working Memory. Participants completed the NIHTB-CB, corresponding gold standard validation measures selected to tap the same cognitive abilities, and sociodemographic questionnaires. Three Composite Scores were derived for both the NIHTB-CB and gold standard batteries: "Crystallized Cognition Composite," "Fluid Cognition Composite," and "Total Cognition Composite" scores. NIHTB Composite Scores showed acceptable internal consistency (Cronbach's alphas=0.84 Crystallized, 0.83 Fluid, 0.77 Total), excellent test-retest reliability (r: 0.86-0.92), strong convergent (r: 0.78-0.90) and discriminant (r: 0.19-0.39) validities versus gold standard composites, and expected age effects (r=0.18 crystallized, r=-0.68 fluid, r=-0.26 total). Significant relationships with self-reported prior school difficulties and current health status, employment, and presence of a disability provided evidence of external validity. The NIH Toolbox Cognition Battery Composite Scores have excellent reliability and validity, suggesting they can be used effectively in epidemiologic and clinical studies. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1-11).
    Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society 06/2014; 20(6):1-11. DOI:10.1017/S1355617714000241 · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: This study describes psychometric properties of the NIH Toolbox Cognition Battery (NIHTB-CB) executive function measures in an adult sample. The NIHTB-CB was designed for use in epidemiologic studies and clinical trials for ages 3 to 85. A total of 268 self-described healthy adults were recruited at four university-based sites, using stratified sampling guidelines to target demographic variability for age (20-85 years), gender, education and ethnicity. The NIHTB-CB contains two computer-based instruments assessing executive function: the Dimensional Change Card Sort (a measure of cognitive flexibility) and a flanker task (a measure of inhibitory control and selective attention). Participants completed the NIHTB-CB, corresponding gold standard convergent and discriminant measures, and sociodemographic questionnaires. A subset of participants (N=89) was retested 7 to 21 days later. Results reveal excellent sensitivity to age-related changes during adulthood, excellent test-retest reliability, and adequate to good convergent and discriminant validity. The NIH Toolbox EF measures can be used effectively in epidemiologic and clinical studies. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1-10).
    Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society 06/2014; 20(06):1-10. DOI:10.1017/S1355617714000472 · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The NIH Toolbox (NIHTB) Pattern Comparison Processing Speed Test was developed to assess processing speed within the NIHTB for the Assessment of Neurological Behavior and Function Cognition Battery (NIHTB-CB). This study highlights validation data collected in adults ages 18-85 on this measure and reports descriptive data, test-retest reliability, construct validity, and preliminary work creating a composite index of processing speed. Results indicated good test-retest reliability. There was also evidence for both convergent and discriminant validity; the Pattern Comparison Processing Speed Test demonstrated moderate significant correlations with other processing speed tests (i.e., WAIS-IV Coding, Symbol Search and Processing Speed Index), small significant correlations with measures of working memory (i.e., WAIS-IV Letter-Number Sequencing and PASAT), and non-significant correlations with a test of vocabulary comprehension (i.e., PPVT-IV). Finally, analyses comparing and combining scores on the NIHTB Pattern Comparison Processing Speed Test with other measures of simple reaction time from the NIHTB-CB indicated that a Processing Speed Composite score performed better than any test examined in isolation. The NIHTB Pattern Comparison Processing Speed Test exhibits several strengths: it is appropriate for use across the lifespan (ages, 3-85 years), it is short and easy to administer, and it has high construct validity. (JINS, 2014, 20, 1-12).
    Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society 06/2014; DOI:10.1017/S1355617714000319 · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) are an important cause of both motor neuron disease (MND) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Currently, little is known about factors that could account for the phenotypic heterogeneity detected in C9ORF72 expansion carriers. In this study, we investigated 4 genes that could represent genetic modifiers: ataxin-2 (ATXN2), non-imprinted in Prader-Willi/Angelman syndrome 1 (NIPA1), survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1), and survival motor neuron 2 (SMN2). Assessment of these genes, in a unique cohort of 331 C9ORF72 expansion carriers and 376 control subjects, revealed that intermediate repeat lengths in ATXN2 possibly act as disease modifier in C9ORF72 expansion carriers; no evidence was provided for a potential role of NIPA1, SMN1, or SMN2. The effects of intermediate ATXN2 repeats were most profound in probands with MND or FTD/MND (2.1% vs. 0% in control subjects, p = 0.013), whereas the frequency in probands with FTD was identical to control subjects. Though intermediate ATXN2 repeats were already known to be associated with MND risk, previous reports did not focus on individuals with clear pathogenic mutations, such as repeat expansions in C9ORF72. Based on our present findings, we postulate that intermediate ATXN2 repeat lengths may render C9ORF72 expansion carriers more susceptible to the development of MND; further studies are needed, however, to validate our findings.
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    ABSTRACT: Understanding of frontotemporal lobar degeneration, the underlying pathology most often linked to the clinical diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia, is rapidly increasing. Mutations in 7 known genes (MAPT, GRN, C9orf72, VCP, CHMP2B, and, rarely, TARDBP and FUS) are associated with frontotemporal dementia, and the pathologic classification of frontotemporal lobar degeneration has recently been modified to reflect these discoveries. Mutations in one of these genes (GRN), which encodes progranulin, have been implicated in up to a quarter of cases of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 (TAR DNA-binding protein 43)-positive inclusions; currently, there are more than 60 known pathogenic mutations of the gene. We present the clinical, pathologic, and genetic findings on 6 cases from 4 families, 5 of which were shown to have a novel GRN c.708+6_+9delTGAG mutation.
    04/2014; DOI:10.1097/NEN.0000000000000070
  • Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology 04/2014; 40(6). DOI:10.1111/nan.12144 · 4.84 Impact Factor
  • M-Marsel Mesulam, Sandra Weintraub
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    ABSTRACT: Hair-splitting details of syndromic classification can hardly be expected to attract much attention. As in all areas of science, however, sound nosology and uniform nomenclature are important for progress in neurology. This is particularly true for the neurodegenerative syndromes, including primary progressive aphasia (PPA), where heterogeneity of phenotype and cellular pathology has defied attempts to coherent clinicopathologic correlations.
    Neurology 03/2014; 82(13). DOI:10.1212/WNL.0000000000000272 · 8.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Fifty-eight autopsies of patients with primary progressive aphasia are reported. Twenty-three of these were previously described (Mesulam et al., 2008) but had their neuropathological diagnoses updated to fit current criteria. Thirty-five of the cases are new. Their clinical classification was guided as closely as possible by the 2011 consensus guidelines (Gorno-Tempini et al., 2011). Tissue diagnoses included Alzheimer's disease in 45% and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) in the others, with an approximately equal split between TAR DNA binding protein 43 proteinopathies and tauopathies. The most common and distinctive feature for all pathologies associated with primary progressive aphasia was the asymmetric prominence of atrophy, neuronal loss, and disease-specific proteinopathy in the language-dominant (mostly left) hemisphere. The Alzheimer's disease pathology in primary progressive aphasia displayed multiple atypical features. Males tended to predominate, the neurofibrillary pathology was more intense in the language-dominant hemisphere, the Braak pattern of hippocampo-entorhinal prominence was tilted in favour of the neocortex, and the APOE e4 allele was not a risk factor. Mean onset age was under 65 in the FTLD as well as Alzheimer's disease groups. The FTLD-TAR DNA binding protein 43 group had the youngest onset and fastest progression whereas the Alzheimer's disease and FTLD-tau groups did not differ from each other in either onset age or progression rate. Each cellular pathology type had a preferred but not invariant clinical presentation. The most common aphasic manifestation was of the logopenic type for Alzheimer pathology and of the agrammatic type for FTLD-tau. The progressive supranuclear palsy subtype of FTLD-tau consistently caused prominent speech abnormality together with agrammatism whereas FTLD-TAR DNA binding protein 43 of type C consistently led to semantic primary progressive aphasia. The presence of agrammatism made Alzheimer's disease pathology very unlikely whereas the presence of a logopenic aphasia or word comprehension impairment made FTLD-tau unlikely. The association of logopenic primary progressive aphasia with Alzheimer's disease pathology was much more modest than has been implied by results of in vivo amyloid imaging studies. Individual features of the aphasia, such as agrammatism and comprehension impairment, were as informative of underlying pathology as more laborious subtype diagnoses. At the single patient level, no clinical pattern was pathognomonic of a specific neuropathology type, highlighting the critical role of biomarkers for diagnosing the underlying disease. During clinical subtyping, some patients were unclassifiable by the 2011 guidelines whereas others simultaneously fit two subtypes. Revisions of criteria for logopenic primary progressive aphasia are proposed to address these challenges.
    Brain 02/2014; DOI:10.1093/brain/awu024 · 10.23 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

8k Citations
1,307.42 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2000–2015
    • Northwestern University
      • • Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer's Disease Center
      • • Division of Hospital Medicine
      • • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
      • • Department of Psychology
      Evanston, Illinois, United States
    • Universitätsspital Basel
      Bâle, Basel-City, Switzerland
    • Duke University
      • Center for Cognitive Neuroscience
      Durham, North Carolina, United States
  • 2013
    • King's College London
      • Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Science
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2009
    • University of California, San Diego
      San Diego, California, United States
  • 2008
    • Université du Québec à Montréal
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • 1992–1996
    • Brigham and Women's Hospital
      • Department of Neurology
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1989–1996
    • Harvard Medical School
      • Department of Neurology
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1994
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1990
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1986
    • Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States