Neuropsychologist Stephen Rao, PhD, has had a multifaceted career. The Medical College of Wisconsin professor began his working life as a practicing clinical neuropsychologist in the late 1970s. He also kept up an active research program, and in the early 1990s began using newly developed functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study motor control, memory and executive processes in healthy adults and in patients with Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.
"I was fortunate, because my institution was one of the first to develop fMRI as a neuroimaging tool in the early 1990s," he says. By about 1999, Rao stopped seeing patients and concentrated on his research, and since 2003 he's been the director of the Functional Imaging Research Center at the college.
Now, as the new editor of Neuropsychology, Rao says he wants to use his diverse research and clinical background to broaden the scope of articles included in the journal.
"I have a unique vantage point: I've been a practicing neuropsychologist, so I have the clinical as well as the research background," he explains. He says he particularly wants to increase the number of clinically oriented neuroimaging articles.
Neuroimaging, he says, has become increasingly important to neuropsychologists over the past decade or so. It has moved from a basic research tool to a clinical research tool, and now--with the preliminary approval of fMRI current procedural terminology (CPT) codes last October, which allow neuropsychologists to bill Medicare and other insurers for neuroimaging services--it has become a billable clinical tool.
Of course, Rao says, other types of basic and clinical research beyond neuroimaging will also remain central to the journal's mission.
In particular, he says he's interested in increasing the number of articles in the journal related to pediatric neuropsychology and to the role of genetics in neuropsychology. The journal will also continue to publish review articles and meta-analyses.
Rao's previous editorial experience will, he says, influence how he runs Neuropsychology. He was a consulting editor at the journal from 1994 to 2000, and he's been an associate editor at the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society since 2000.
In those roles and as a researcher, he says, he's seen the importance of keeping article turnaround times to a minimum.
"I know that when I'm deciding where to submit an article, there are a couple of things that are important," he says. "One is the prestige or impact factor, but the other is efficiency--how well the journal is run."
He says that he plans to keep the lag time between an article's submission and the first decision letter to no more than six weeks, and the time between an article's acceptance and publication to no more than six months.
Rao will begin accepting submissions in January through the APA Journals Web site.