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Bruce Crosson


Ph.D., Texas Tech University, 1978


Broadly speaking, my research interests lie in the areas of language, rehabilitation, and aging. We have used functional MRI extensively as a tool to examine relevant neural mechanisms in these areas, and we are also beginning to use transcranial magnetic stimulation. One current direction in our research group is determining how the aging process affects the neural substrates of language and whether aging-related changes can be mitigated by aerobic exercise. This line of research has been motivated in part by work done by my colleagues, Keith McGregor, PhD and Joe Nocera, PhD. Dr. McGregor’s work has demonstrated a loss of intercortical inhibition in aging, and Dr. Nocera’s work has shown that semantic fluency can be improved in older adults using aerobic exercise. Over the past few years, work emerging from our laboratory has shown that increasing right frontal activity and decreasing “default network” suppression during the course of aging is associated with poorer performance in word retrieval. Preliminary data suggests that exercise can mitigate these brain activity changes. A second recent direction in our laboratory has been examining how to remap language functions during aphasia rehabilitation. We have shown that simple behavioral manipulations can be used to remap language activity from the left to the right frontal lobe during aphasia rehabilitation and that this treatment generalizes to untrained items and contexts, an unusual finding in aphasia rehabilitation. Historically, I also have a long-standing interest in how subcortical structures support language processes that has guided empirical research, case studies, and conceptual articles. In general, my work takes place in a rich multi-disciplinary environment. I have recently collaborated with several excellent speech/language pathologists, cognitive psychologists, exercise scientists, magnetic resonance physicists and neurologists. Such collaborations allow us to mount research work that would be impossible within the silo of a single discipline.

Much of my current funding comes from the VA. I am the Executive Associate Director of the Center of Excellence for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation (CVNR) at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. In addition, I am Director of the CVNR Neuroimaging Core. One purpose of this Core is to teach young investigators how to collect and analyze functional MRI data. I am a Senior Research Career Scientist with the Rehabilitation Research and Development (RR&D) Service of the VA and am currently funded to determine if right frontal activity in older persons helps or hurts word retrieval. Other recent funding sources include the NIH and the Brooks Rehabilitation Foundation.

One focus of my career for the past several years has been to mentor young investigators. I have been a mentor on 27 mentored awards from the NIH, VA, German Foundation for Science, and private foundations, eight of which are currently active. Over 90% of the applications on which I have acted as a mentor have been funded. Mentoring allows me not only to help young scientists learn how to write grants and conduct scientific studies, it also enriches my research experience because I learn from my mentored awardees.

Current and Recent Grants

Currently Funded

IRX000994A    Crosson (PI)
Right Frontal Activity in Older Adults: Does It Help or Hurt Word Retrieval?
This award will use low-frequency rTMS to decrease activity in right pars triangularis to determine whether previously demonstrated aging-related activity increases in this area help or hurt word retrieval.
Role:  PI

B6364L        Crosson (PI)
Senior Research Career Scientist Award
This is a salary award to the PI to sustain and enhance the VA research career of the awardee.
Role:  PI

C9246C           Sathian (PI), Crosson (Co-PI)
Center of Excellence Grant:  Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation
This grant provides infrastructure to leverage other grant support in the areas of visual and neurocognitive rehabilitation.
Role:  Co-PI, Executive Associate Director, Neuroimaging Core Director

DP120104420        Copland, D. (PI)
ARC (Australian Research Council)
Control of Language Production and Its Neural Substrates
The ability of humans to say the right word at the right time is a critical, complex and poorly understood function. This research will determine the brain circuits responsible for language production and how this process is affected in Parkinson’s disease.
Role: Co-Investigator

Recently Completed

R21 DC009247         Crosson, B. (PI)
9/1/09-8/31/11 (no-cost extension through
An fMRI Model of Naming in Alzheimer’s Disease
The purpose of this grant is to test a model of naming deficits in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) proposing that both isolated semantic and isolated lexical deficits can exist separately in different AD patients and that the neural substrates of these deficits are different from one another.
Role: PI

Brooks Rehab Grant   Crosson, B.  (PI)
Brooks Health Foundation
Aerobic Exercise as an Adjuvant to Aphasia Therapy
The goal of this grant was to determine if aerobic exercise would increase serum brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in stroke patients with aphasia, thereby improving response to aphasia therapy.
Crosson Role: PI

B3149C          Rothi (Center Director), Crosson (Coordinator)
Center of Excellence Grant:  Brain Rehabilitation Research Center
This grant provides infrastructure to leverage other grant support in the area of brain rehabilitation.
Role:  Coordinator of Functional Neuroimaging Core (participation ended 5/31/12 due to move)

R01 DC007387           Crosson (PI)
9/1/06-8/31/09 (no-cost extension through 8/31/11)
Treatment of Intention in Aphasia:  Neural Substrates
This grant used fMRI to determine if an intention treatment for aphasia shifts lateralization of language production in frontal structures, as it was designed to do.
Role:  PI


McGregor, K.,  Zlatar, Z., Kleim, E., Sudhyadhom, A., Bauer, A., Phan, S., Seeds, L., Ford, A., Manini, T., White, K. D., Kleim, J., Crosson, B. (2011).  Physical Activity and Neural Correlates of Aging: A Combined TMS/fMRI Study.  Behavioural Brain Research, 222, 158-168.

FitzGerald, D. B., Gullett, J. M., Levy, C. E., Crosson, B.  (2011).  Delayed diagnosis of intracerebral foreign body from the Vietnam War.  Military Medicine, 176, 228-231.

Park, H., Rogalski, Y., Rodriguez, A., Bennett, J., Zlatar, Z., Benjamin, M., Harnish, S., Rosenbek, J., Crosson, B., and Reilly, J. (2011). Perceptual Cues Used by Listeners to Discriminate Fluent from Nonfluent Narrative Discourse.  Aphasiology. 25, 998-1015.

Meinzer, M., Harnish, S., Conway, T., Crosson, B.  (2011).  Recent developments in functional and structural imaging of aphasia recovery after stroke. Aphasiology, 25, 271-290.

FitzGerald, D. B., Crosson, B.  (2011).  Diffusion Weighted Imaging and Neuropsychological Correlates in Adults with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.  International Journal of Psychophysiology, 82, 79-85.

Meinzer, M., Seeds, L., Flaisch, T., Harnish, S., Cohen, M. L., McGregor, K., Conway, T., Benjamin, M., Crosson, B.  (2012).  Impact of changed positive and negative task-related functional activity on word-retrieval in aging.  Neurobiology of Aging, 33, 656-669.

Sudhyadhom, A., McGregor, K., Okun, M. S., Foote, K. D., Trinastic, J., Crosson, B., Bova, F. J. (2013). Delineation of Motor and Somatosensory Thalamic Subregions Utilizing Probabilistic Diffusion Tractography and Electrophysiology. Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 37, 600-609. doi: 10.1002/jmri.23861.

Meinzer, M., Flaisch, T., Seeds, L., Harnish, S. Antonenko, D., Witte, A.V., Crosson, B. (2012). Same modulation but different starting points: Performance modulates age differences in inferior frontal cortex activity during word-retrieval. PLoS One, 7, e33631 (pp 1-8).

Moore, A. B., Li, Z., Tyner, C. E., Hu, X., Crosson, B. (2013). Bilateral basal ganglia activity in verbal working memory. Brain and Language, 125, 316–323.

McGregor, K. M., Carpenter, H., Kleim, E. Sudhyadhom, A., White, K. D., Butler, A. J., Kleim, J., Crosson, B. (2012). Motor map reliability and aging: A TMS/fMRI study. Experimental Brain Research, 219, 97-106.

McGregor, K. M., Heilman, K. M., Nocera, J. R., Patten, C., Crosson, B., Manini, T. M., Butler, A. J. (2012). Aging, Aerobic Activity and Interhemispheric Communication. Brain Sciences, 2, 634-648.

Zlatar, Z. Z., Towler, S., McGregor, K. M., Dzierzewski, J. M., Bauerc, A., Phanc, Matthew Cohen, S., Marsiske, M., Manini, T. M., Crosson, B. (2013). Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 19, 1-10 (epub ahead of print. doi:10.1017/S1355617713000246).

Ford, A., Triplett, W., Sudhyadhom, A., Gullett, J., McGregor, K., FitzGerald, D., Mareci, T., White, K., Crosson, B. (2013). Broca’s area and its striatal and thalamic connections: A diffusion-MRI tractography study. Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, 7, article 8, 1-12. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2013.00008

Altmann, L. J. P. Hazamy, A. A., Carvahal, P. J., Benjamin, M., Rosenbek, J. C., Crosson, B. (in press). Delayed stimulus-specific improvements in discourse following anomia treatment using an intentional gesture. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research.

McGregor, K. M., Nocera, J. R., Sudhyadhom, A., Patten, C., Manini, T., Kleim, J. A., Crosson, B., Butler, A. J. (in press). Effects of Aerobic Fitness on Aging-related Changes of Interhemispheric Inhibition and Motor Performance. Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.

Benjamin, M., Towler, S., Garcia, A., Park, H. J., Sudhyadhom, A., Harnish, S., McGregor, K., Zlatar, Z., Reilly, J. J., Rosenbek, J. C., Gonzalez-Rothi, L. J., Crosson, B. (in press). A Behavioral Manipulation Engages Right Frontal Cortex during Aphasia Therapy. Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair.

Meinzer, M., Beeson, P.M., Cappa, S., Crinion, J., Kiran, K., Saur, D., Parrish, T., Crosson, B., Thompson, C. K. (2013). Neuroimaging in aphasia treatment research: Consensus and practical guidelines for data analysis. NeuroImage, 73, 215-24. (doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.02.058).

Crosson, B. (2013). Thalamic mechanisms in language: A reconsideration based on recent findings and concepts. Brain & Language, 126, 73-88.