Yaakov Stern is a Professor of Clinical Neuropsychology in the Departments of Neurology, Psychiatry, and Psychology, as well as the in Sergievsky Center and the Taub Institute for the Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Stern directs the Cognitive Neuroscience Division of the Sergievsky Center and is Director of Neuropsychology for the Memory Disorders Clinic at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. He also directs the post-doctoral training program Neuropsychology and Cognition in Aging.
Dr. Stern received is BA in Psychology from Touro College in 1975. He received his doctoral training in the Experimental Cognition Program at City University of New York, where he received his PhD in 1983. Dr. Stern began his association with Columbia University Medical Center in 1979, when he began working on his dissertation research on cognition in Parkinson's disease with Dr. Richard Mayeux. After receiving his PhD, Dr. Stern was appointed postdoctoral research scientist in 1983, and eventually Professor in 1996. To date, Dr. Stern has supervised 20 postdoctoral fellows. He has served on the editorial board of the journals Neuropsychology and Aging Neuropsychology and Cognition. He is currently on the editorial board of The Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology and is associate editor of the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.
One strong theme in my research is the study of the concept of cognitive reserve. I am interested in the source of individual differences in task performance in general, and more specifically, in exploring the reason why some individuals show more cognitive deficit than others in the face of brain insult. I use a combination of epidemiological and functional imaging approaches to address these issues. Ongoing fMRI studies are designed to explore this issue using activation paradigms that carefully control for and assess neural responses to changes in task difficulty. The intention is to evaluate differential expression of brain networks across young and old healthy individuals and patients with Alzheimer's disease, and how network expression relates to measures of cognitive reserve. .Parallel research on sleep deprivation explores the issue of individual variability in susceptibility to the cognitive effects of sleep deprivation.
I have a long-standing interest in heterogeneity of the expression and course of Alzheimer's disease. I have been conducting a prospective study that is designed to explore individual differences in the rate of decline and in the manifestation of cognitive, behavioral, psychiatric and neurologic features in AD patients. Ongoing clinicopathologic studies should give insight into this heterogeneity. Complementary studies are being conducted in community-based subjects in the North Manhattan community.
More generally, I direct the Cognitive Neuroscience division, which is a collection of investigators who focus on cognitive-experimental and neuroimaging approaches to cognition across the life span. There is an emphasis on normal and abnormal aging, and degenerative neurological disease. Domains of current cognitive experimental studies include: memory: explicit recall, source memory, working memory, priming; basic timing mechanisms and their relation to other cognitive tasks; effects of literacy, education, ethnicity, and acculturation on neuropsychological task performance; and traditional neuropsychological battery-based studies of cognition in normal aging and our diseases of interest. Foci of current cognitive neuroimaging studies include network changes in mediating recognition source and working memory in normal aging and Alzheimer's disease (fMRI); cognitive reserve and compensation (fMRI); priming in young adults and normal aging (fMRI); and improved analytic methods for functional imaging.