An anonymous gift in September 2009 created the Distinguished Chair of Neurosicence, which Hart assumed in September 2011.
Hart is a past president of the Society for Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology and the Behavioral Neurology Section of the American Academy of Neurology. He is one of the world’s foremost experts on semantic memory, which studies how knowledge is stored and accessed in the brain.
The Center for BrainHealth and the University of Texas at Dallas have given me the opportunity to take our work into how normal people store and retrieve knowledge in the brain and apply that to a wide array of medical and societal issues. More importantly, it has offered the opportunity to help train the next generation of cognitive neuroscientists, the accomplishment of which I am the proudest.
In 1985, Dr. John Hart Jr. established that knowledge is stored in the brain by categories. This finding and others that followed form the basis of a model of human semantic memory called the Neural Hybrid Model.
Hart and his collaborators have now used these fundamental findings to assess patients with a variety of disorders, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, Gulf War Syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and depression.
The findings in these studies will lead to treatments or diagnostic tools for these diseases. In addition, the work that Hart has performed in knowledge storage will be applied to children with difficulties in this area and in developing optimal programs for use in educational systems.
His current research focuses in part on studying and developing new technologies to provide diagnostic markers of brain disease and to focus on approaches to repair the brain. Hart has been awarded a multimillion-dollar Department of Defense grant for a novel approach to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and is studying brain injuries in retired professional athletes.
Hart, a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, received his bachelor’s degree from Johns Hopkins University, where he did his residency in neurology, a fellowship in cognitive neurology and neuropsychology, and went on to become a faculty member of the Department of Neurology in the Hopkins School of Medicine. Following his years at Johns Hopkins, Hart was the director of the Cognition and Brain Imaging Laboratory at the Donald W. Reynolds Center on Aging at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences before joining the Center for BrainHealth in 2005.