Kelly Bijanki, PhD

    Assistant Professor

    Emory University Department of Neurosurgery

    Assistant Professor

    Emory University Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

    Principal Investigator

    Laboratory for Behavioral Neuromodulation

    Clinical Neuroimaging Support for Intracranial Monitoring Epilepsy Service

    Emory University Department of Neurosurgery


    • BA, Truman State University, 2007
    • PhD, University of Iowa, 2011
    • Post-doctoral Fellowship, University of Iowa, 2014
    • Post-doctoral Fellowship, Emory University, 2016
    • MS, Emory University, 2018 (expected)


    Dr. Bijanki is a trained neuroscientist, with a deep background in both cognitive and molecular approaches, proficiency in psychiatric and surgical neuroimaging, and extensive experience with behavioral studies of brain stimulation. During her Ph.D. at the University of Iowa, she studied the contribution of white matter integrity to depressive and anxious symptoms across a variety of disease states, including Huntington’s disease, schizophrenia, psychotic depression, and vascular disease. She remained at the University of Iowa for a prestigious Kirschstein National Research Service Award (T32) postdoctoral fellowship, during which she designed a series of first-in-human experiments to examine emotional perceptual bias (affective bias) during electrical stimulation of the amygdala in patients undergoing intracranial monitoring for treatment-refractory epilepsy. This work was awarded a Young Investigator Grant from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in 2013.  In 2014, Kelly pursued her dream of training with a world expert in affective neuromodulation, Dr. Helen Mayberg, moving to Emory University for a second post-doctoral fellowship. During this fellowship, Kelly developed her ideas surrounding the use of affective bias as an outcome measure for psychiatric neuromodulation and began establishing parallel programs of research in patients undergoing deep brain stimulation for treatment refractory depression, as well as in patients undergoing intracranial monitoring for treatment refractory epilepsy. Her work earned her promotion to the rank of Instructor of Neurosurgery in 2016 and a KL2 Mentored Clinical and Translational Research Scholars award, which supported advanced training in biostatistics and clinical trials design. In 2017, her program of research led to the identification of a novel stimulation-based strategy for evoking positive affect and anxiolysis, for which her team currently has a United States Patent pending. In 2018, Kelly was again promoted to the rank of Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, based on her meritorious research productivity and the development of a complex research platform to leverage the stereotactic EEG environment to study complex questions of human neuroscience. This work has recently been identified for funding in the form a K01 award and an R21 award from the National Institutes of Mental Health and the National Institutes of Neurological Disease and Stroke, respectively.  Kelly’s K01 award will support 4 years of research on the role of the amygdala in depressive symptoms and facilitate her pursuit of extended training in electrophysiology. Her R21 award will support an additional 2 years of research to establish a stimulation-based emotion-mapping paradigm to run alongside existing language-mapping paradigms to predict postoperative neuropsychiatric deficits.

    Kelly intends to become a leader in brain stimulation research dedicated to developing a program of research for mapping the affective neural circuitry in vivo. She aims to establish a translational research lab with three major foci: 1) stimulation-based emotional paradigms to facilitate mapping the function of individual constituent structures of the emotional and social circuitry, 2) advanced neuroimaging analyses to model the structure of the emotional circuitry and direct influence of stimulation in individual surgery patients, and 3) advancing the understanding of the real-time function of the human emotional system through analysis of electrophysiological activity recorded throughout the network. These efforts have the potential to transform the treatment of debilitating neuropsychiatric illnesses, yielding novel brain targets for deep brain stimulation, non-invasive neuromodulation, and targeted pharmacogenetic therapies.


    • American Epilepsy Society Junior Investigator Research Award Finalist, 2016
    • Brain Research Foundation Seed Grant Southeast Finalist, 2016
    • Emory University Postdoctoral Symposium Outstanding Oral Presenter Award, 2016
    • Society for Neuroscience Postdoctoral Fellow Travel Award, 2011
    • Graduate Research Conference Biological and Health Sciences Award, 2009
    • Truman State University Summer Undergraduate Research Grant, 2005
    • Truman State University President’s Leadership Scholarship, 2003 


    • American Academy for the Advancement of Science 
    • American Epilepsy Society 
    • American Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery 
    • Cognitive Neuroscience Society 
    • International Neuropsychological Society  
    • International Society of Vascular Behavioral and Cognitive Disorders
    • Society for Biological Psychiatry 
    • Society for Neuroscience 
    • World Society for Stereotactic and Functional Neurosurgery 


    Dr. Bijanki's primary research interest explores the neurobiological, behavioral and electrophysiological correlates of human behavior and psychopathology, particularly related to the effects of neuromodulation on affective neural circuit function and implications for our understanding of the circuit across psychiatric and neurological patient populations.


    • Inman, C.S.*, Manns, J.R.*, Bijanki, K.R., Bass, D.I., Hamann, S., Drane, D.L., Fasano, R., Kovach, C.K., Gross, R.E., Willie, J.T. (2017). Direct Electrical Stimulation of the Amygdala Enhances Event-Specific Declarative Memory in Humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (* co-first authors).
    • Li, T., Horta, M., Mascaro, J., Bijanki, K., Arnal, L.H., Adams, M., Barr, R.G., Rilling, J.K. (2017, in press). Explaining individual variation to paternal brain response to infant cries. Physiology and Behavior.
    • Bijanki, K.R., Matsui, J.T., Mayberg, H.S., Magnotta, V.A., Arndt, S., Johnson, H.J., Nopoulos, P., Paradiso, S., McCormick, L., Fiedorowicz, J.G., Epping, E.A., Moser, D.J. (2015). Depressive symptoms related to low fractional anisotropy in the right ventral anterior cingulate in older adults with atherosclerotic vascular disease. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 9(408) DOI: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00408. PMID: 26236221.
    • Bijanki, K.R., Hodis, B., Magnotta, V.A., Zeien, E., Andreasen, N.C. (2015). Effects of age on white matter integrity and negative symptoms in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research 161(1): 29-35. DOI: 10.1016/j.schres.2014.05.031. PMID: 24957354
    • Inman, C.S., Bijanki, K.R., Bass, D.I., Gross, R.E., Hamann, S., Willie, J.T. (2017, accepted). Human amygdala stimulation effects on emotion physiology and emotional expression. Neuropsychologia.
    • Bijanki, K.R., Hodis, B., Brumm, M., Harlynn, E, McCormick, L.M. (2014). Hippocampal and subcallosal cingulate atrophy in psychotic depression. PLoS ONE 9(10): e110770. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0110770. PMID: 25338068.
    • Bijanki, K.R., Kovach, C., McCormick, L.M., Kawasaki, H., Dlouhy, B., Feinstein, J., Jones, R.D., Howard, M. (2014). Case report: Stimulation of the right amygdala produces transient changes in affective bias. Brain Stimulation 7(5): 690-693. DOI: 10.1016/j.brs.2014.05.005. PMID: 24972588.
    • Epping, E.A., Mills, J.A., Beglinger, L.J., Fiedorowicz, J.G., Craufurd, D., Smith, M.M., Groves, M., Bijanki, K.R., Downing, N., Williams, J.K., Long, J.D., Paulsen, J.S., and the PREDICT-HD Investigators and Coordinators of the Huntington Study Group (2013). Characterization of depression in prodromal Huntington disease: the PREDICT-HD study. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 47(10) 1423-1431. DOI:10.1016/j.jpsychres. 2013.05.026. PMID: 23790259.
    • Bijanki, K.R., Arndt, S., Magnotta, V.A., Nopoulos, P., Paradiso, S., Matsui, J.T., Johnson, H.J., Moser, D.J. (2013). Characterizing white matter health in atherosclerotic vascular disease. Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 214(3): 389-394. DOI: 10.1016/j.pscychresns.2013.07.011 PMID: 24144509.
    • Bijanki, K.R., Stillman, A.N., Arndt, S., Magnotta, V., Fiedorowicz, J.G., Haynes, W., Matsui, J.T., Johnson, H.J., W., Moser, D.J. (2013). White matter fractional anisotropy is inversely related to anxious symptoms in older adults with atherosclerosis. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 28(10): 1069-1076. DOI: 10.1002/gps. 3930. PMID: 23348834.
    • Beglinger, L.J., Prest, L., Mills, J.A., Paulsen, J.S., Smith, M., Gonzalez-Alegre, P., Rowe, K.C., Nopoulos, P., Uc, E.Y. (2012). Clinical predictors of driving status in Huntington disease. Movement Disorders. 27(9):1146-52. DOI: 10.1002/mds.25101. PMID: 22744778.
    • Stillman, A.N., Rowe, K.C., Arndt, S., Moser, D.J. (2012). Anxious symptoms and cognitive function in non-demented elderly adults: an inverse relationship. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 27(8): 792-798. DOI: 10.1002/gps.2785. PMID: 21919061.
    • Timpe, J.C., Rowe, K.C., Matsui, J.K., Magnotta, V.A., Denburg, N.L. (2011). White matter integrity, as measured by diffusion tensor imaging, distinguishes between impaired and unimpaired older decision-makers. Journal of Cognitive Psychology 23 (6 SI) 760-767. PMID: 24976948
    • Rowe, K.C., Paulsen, J.S., Langbehn, D.R., Wang, C., Mills, J., Beglinger, L.J., Smith, M., Epping, E.A., Fiedorowicz, J., Duff, K., Ruggle, A., Moser, D.J., and the PREDICT-HD Investigators of the HSG. (2012). Patterns of Serotonergic Antidepressant Usage in Prodromal Huntington Disease. Psychiatry Research, 196(2-3) 309-314. DOI: 10.1016/j.psychres.2011.09.005. PMID: 22397915.
    • Downing N., Smith M.M., Beglinger L.J., Mills J., Duff K., Rowe K.C., Epping E., Paulsen J.S., and the PREDICT-HD Investigators of the HSG. (2012). Perceived Stress in Prodromal Huntington Disease. Psychology & Health, 27(2) 196-209. DOI: 10.1080/08870446.2010.529141. PMID: 21623544.
    • O’Rourke, J.J.F., Beglinger, L.J., Smith, M.R., Mills, J., Moser, D.J., Rowe, K.C., Langbehn, D.R., Duff, K., Stout, J.C., Harrington, D.L., Carlozzi, N., Paulsen, J.S., and the PREDICT-HD Investigators of the Huntington Study Group. (2010). Cognitive, Motor, and Psychiatric Contributions to the Trail Making Test in Prodromal Huntington Disease: Contributions of Disease Progression to Test Performance. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 33 (5) 567-579. DOI: 10.1080/13803395. 2010.541228. PMID: 21302170.
    • Rowe, K.C., Paulsen, J.S., Langbehn, D.R., Duff, K., Beglinger, L.J., Wang, C., O’Rourke, J.J.F., Stout, J., Moser, D.J., and the PREDICT-HD Investigators of the Huntington Study Group. (2010). Self-Paced Timing Detects and Tracks Change in Prodromal Huntington Disease. Neuropsychology, 24, 435-442. DOI: 10.1037/ a0018905. PMID: 20604618.

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