Yana Suchy, Ph.D.
Professor, Clinical Psychology, Neuropsychology
Program for Underrepresented and Disadvantaged Scholars
Office: 1301b BEHS
My research is in the area of neuropsychology, with a particular focus on executive functions. Executive functions refer to a set of abilities that allow us to choose the most appropriate behaviors given different contexts, to plan ahead and follow through with our plans, and to avoid acting on impulses. In other words, it is our intact and mature executive functioning that makes it possible for us to avoid behaviors that are typical of babies and young children, such as grabbing someone else's food when hungry, crying when frustrated, or purposelessly wondering around when looking for something we have lost.
Many neurologic populations, such as patients with certain types of dementia, stroke, or serious brain injury, can have profound impairments in executive functioning. However, other individuals, such as those characterized by certain personality disorders, survivors of mild brain injuries, or individuals in preclinical stages of dementia exhibit lapses in executive functioning that are intermittent and triggered in unpredictable ways. Such mild or intermittent executive difficulties, while potentially leading to serious errors in everyday life, are difficult to detect in the context of structured clinical or research settings.
My long-term research goal is to advance our understanding of what triggers lapses in executive functioning, as well as to advance methods for identifying individuals who are at risk for such lapses. In the next several years, my lab will be focusing on testing and refining the Contextually Valid Executive Assessment (ConVExA) model. This model is built on several assumptions: First, while EF represents a stable trait, it also presents as a fluctuating trait; consequently, EF performance on any given day may or may not reflect one’s true and stable EF capacity. Second, although EF represents the best predictor of one’s functionality in daily life, other inherent characteristics (e.g., IQ, personality, temperament) in part determine how much EF is needed for a given task to be carried out correctly. Third, although relatively little EF may be needed for a simple daily task (e.g., a simple medication regimen), if such a task is placed in the context of a highly complex daily life, the probability that such a task will be carried out incorrectly increases despite normal or even superior performance on EF tests. The recent work in my laboratory has been, and will continue to be, focusing on quantifying these various relationships, so as to improve the ecological validity of EF assessment.
My clinical interests focus on neuropsychological assessment of adults who have suffered various types of brain insult. I have worked both with patients who are in the acute phases of recovery, such as patients who have just suffered a stroke or a traumatic brain injury, as well as with patients who suffer from chronic or slowly progressing conditions, such as various types of dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, or old injuries.
Although I do not specialize in pediatric neuropsychology, prospective graduate students should note that several pediatric neuropsychologists with excellent resources both on and off campus are available for supervision of work with children.
Opportunities For Students
I will NOT be recruiting graduate students for Fall 2022.
Students in my laboratory are motivated to generate publications, and are generally well published by the time they leave graduate school. Within the general framework of ongoing project, I encourage students to identify their own niche and to develop their own line of programmatic research. Examples of recent publications with my students include the following (student co-authors are italicized):
Suchy, Y. & Brothers, S.L.(in press). Reliability and Validity of Composite Scores from the timed subtests of the D-KEFS Battery. Psychological Assessment.
- Brothers, S.L. & Suchy, Y. (in press). Ecological Momentary Assessment of Executive Functions and Expressive Suppression Predict Instrumental Activities of Daily Living among Community-Dwelling Older Adults. The Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society
- Kurniadi, N.E., Suchy, Y., & Niermeyer, M.A. (in press). Branching Condition of the Color-Word Interference Test Enhances Prediction of Meta-Tasking in Community-Dwelling Older Adults. The Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society.
- Suchy, Y., Mullen, C., Brothers, S.L, & Niermeyer, M.A., (2020). Interpreting executive and lower-order error scores on the timed subtests of the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS) battery: Error analysis across the adult lifespan. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 42 (10), 982-997.
- Suchy, Y., Brothers, S.L, Mullen, C., & Niermeyer, M.A., &. (2020). Chronic Versus Recent Expressive Suppression Burdens are Differentially Associated with Cognitive Performance Among Older Adults. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 42 (8), 834-848.
- Niermeyer, M.A., & Suchy, Y. (2020). Walking, talking, and suppressing: Executive functioning mediates the relationship between higher expressive suppression and slower dual-task walking among older adults. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 34 (4), 775-796.
- Niermeyer, M.A. & Suchy, Y.(2020). The Vulnerability of Executive Functioning: The Additive Effects of Recent Non-Restorative Sleep, Pain Interference, and Use of Expressive Suppression on Test Performance. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 34 (4), 700-719.
- Suchy, Y., Ziemnik, R., Niermeyer, M.A., & Brothers, S. (2020). Executive Functioning Interacts with Complexity of Daily Life in Predicting Daily Medication Management among Older Adults. The Clinical Neuropsychologist, 34 (4), 797-825.
Competitive applicants will demonstrate a strong research interest in studying executive functioning, functional lapses, or preclinical/subclinical cognitive changes in old age, and will have some experience working with older adults. Experience with administration of neuropsychological tests is also valued and strongly encouraged.
Research Assistants/Undergraduate Volunteers
We consider admitting new volunteers on an ongoing basis. If you are interested in the line of research described above, and you are a highly motivated to learn about and contribute to all aspects of research (e.g., recruitment of participants, data collection, data entry), feel free to contact myself of one of my graduate students. We generally admit new volunteers for one semester on a trial basis. Following the trial period, we often require a one-year commitment and the ability to contribute at least 5 hours a week to the lab activities. Hours are highly flexible.
Post-doc, Evanston Hospital (Clinical Neuropsychology, 1998-2000)
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Psychology, 1998)
M.A., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Psychology, 1995)
B.S., University of Wisconsin-Parkside (Psychology/English, 1991)
- Tinajero, R.A., Williams, P.G., Rau, H., Silver, M., Bride, D., & Suchy, Y.(in press). Reported history of childhood trauma and stress-related vulnerability: Associations with emotion regulation, executive functioning, daily hassles, and pre-sleep arousal. Stress and Health.
- Suchy, Y., Butner, J., Wiebe, D.J., Campbell, M., Turner, S.L., & Berg, C.A. (2020). Executive Cognitive Functions and Behavioral Control differentially predict HbA1c in Type 1 Diabetes across emerging adulthood. The Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 26(4), 353-363.
- McGarrity, L.A., Huebner, D.M., Smith, T.W., & Suchy, Y. (2020). Minority stress, emotion regulation, and executive function: An experimental investigation of gay and lesbian adults. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 46, 365-376.
- Ziemnik, R.E., & Suchy, Y. (2019). Ecological validity of performance-based measures of executive functions: Is face validity necessary for prediction of daily functioning? Psychological Assessment, 31 (11), 1307-1318.
- Williams, P.G., Cribbet, M, Rau, HK, Tinajero, R, Thayer, JF, & Suchy, Y. (2019). The association between individual differences in executive functioning and resting high-frequency heart rate variability. Biological Psychology, 148, 107772.
- Suchy, Y. Niermeyer, M., Franchow, E., Ziemnik, R. (2019). Naturally-occurring expressive suppression is associated with lapses in instrumental activities of daily living among community-dwelling older adults. The Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 25 (7), 718-728.
- Suchy, Y. Niermeyer, M., Franchow, E., Ziemnik, R. (2019). The deleterious impact of expressive suppression on test performance persists at one-year follow-up in community-dwelling older adults. The Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 25 (1), 29-38.
My Current Graduate Students
Michelle Gereau Mora