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Arenth, Patricia

[Picture of Patricia Arenth] Assistant Professor, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
University of Pittsburgh

Phone: (412) 648-6848

Ph.D., Ohio State University


Research Interests

My overall research interests are in the areas of rehabilitation and outcome following traumatic brain injury (TBI), including cognitive recovery, as well as adjustment to disability issues. My background in clinical neuropsychology has provided me with an acute awareness of the cognitive deficits frequently associated with TBI, and of the need to study the underlying causes, as well as to explore possible treatments for the disability produced by these types of impairments.


My current research interests focus on the use of neuroimaging techniques to study cognitive impairment associated with TBI. Despite the fact that there are few published functional neuroimaging studies of persons with TBI, these techniques appear to compliment other methods for the characterization of TBI related cognitive impairments. In addition, such studies have suggested significant changes in brain activation patterns when individuals with TBI are engaged in cognitive tasks, as compared with healthy controls. By evaluating such alterations in brain activation, we hope to gain further insights into the causes and possible treatments of observed functional impairments in cognition, such as the memory and executive functioning deficits that are so prevalent within the TBI population.


My interest in exploring possible treatments for cognitive deficits associated with TBI extends into the area of neuropharmacology: Certain pharmacological agents have been shown to improve cognitive recovery following TBI however, there has not been sufficient scientific validation of such agents for physicians to be confident in their choices for treatment. Functional neuroimaging techniques have the potential to objectively document functional change secondary to pharmacological intervention. By using neuroimaging to observe the effects of pharmacological agents on cerebral activation, we have the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of how these medications are efficacious, leading to the development of improved medical interventions.


In the past few years, I have been working closely with Dr. Joseph Ricker in his studies of alterations in cerebral blood flow and memory issues following TBI. We have employed functional neuroimaging techniques including Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (FMRI) and Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (FNIRS)in these studies. I am currently initiating a project to study working memory issues following traumatic brain injury. We will study the effects of a neuropharmacological agent on working memory functioning through the use of baseline and follow-up neuropsychological testing and neuroimaging (fMRI).


Recent Publications

  • Arenth PM, Ricker JH, Schultheis MT: Applications of functional near-infrared spectroscopy (FNIRS) to neurorehabilitation of cognitive disabilities. Clin Neuropsychol 21: 38-57, 2007.
  • Arenth PM, Corrigan JD, Schmidt LD: Exploring the use of social comparison by individuals recovering from traumatic brain injury. Brain Inj 20(3): 253-262, 2006.
  • Arenth PM, Bogner JA, Corrigan JD, Schmidt LD: The utility of the substance abuse subtle screening inventory-3 for use with individuals with brain injury. Brain Inj 15(6): 499-510, 2001.