Dr. Sephira Ryman is a clinical neuropsychologist who uses multimodal neuroimaging techniques (e.g. MRI/fMRI, EEG, DWI) to understand the dynamic mechanisms of higher order cognitive functioning in both health and disease. She currently aims to characterize how neuronal and cognitive functioning is altered in Parkinson's Disease and Lewy body dementias with the ultimate goal of 1) identifying meaningful biomarkers to track disease progression and 2) developing interventions that improve cognitive functioning.
Dr. Ryman studied Neuroscience and Psychology as an undergraduate at Wellesley College. She continued to pursue these interests and obtained her Masters of Science and Doctorate Degree in Clinical Psychology, specializing in Neuropsychology at the University of New Mexico. She completed her clinical internship in Clinical Neuropsychology at the University of California, Los Angeles and is currently the Pacific Udall Center Clinical Research Fellow at Stanford University, Department of Neurology and Neurological Sciences.
Doctor of Philosophy, University of New Mexico (2018)
Internship, University of California, Los Angeles, Neuropsychology (2018)
Master of Science, University of New Mexico (2014)
Bachelor of Arts, Wellesley College (2009)
Kathleen Poston, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
MRI biomarkers of motor and non-motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease.
Parkinsonism & related disorders
Parkinson's disease is a heterogeneous disorder with both motor and non-motor symptoms that contribute to functional impairment. To develop effective, disease modifying treatments for these symptoms, biomarkers are necessary to detect neuropathological changes early in the disease course and monitor changes over time. Advances in MRI scan sequences and analytical techniques present numerous promising metrics to detect changes within the nigrostriatal system, implicated in the cardinal motor symptoms of the disease, and detect broader dysfunction involved in the non-motor symptoms, such as cognitive impairment. There is emerging evidence that iron sensitive, neuromelanin sensitive, diffusion sensitive, and resting state functional magnetic imaging measures can capture changes within the nigrostriatal system. Iron, neuromelanin, and diffusion sensitive measures demonstrate high specificity and sensitivity in distinguishing Parkinson's disease relative to controls, with inconsistent results differentiating Parkinson's disease relative to atypical parkinsonian disorders. They may also serve as useful monitoring biomarkers, with each possibly detecting different aspects of the disease course (early nigrosome changes versus broader substantia nigra changes). Investigations of non-motor symptoms, such as cognitive impairment, require careful consideration of the nature of cognitive deficits to characterize regional and network specific impairment. While the early, executive dysfunction observed is consistent with nigrostriatal degeneration, the memory and visuospatial impairments, the harbingers of a dementia process reflect dopaminergic independent dysfunction involving broader regions of the brain.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2019.10.002
View details for PubMedID 31629653