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Dr. Barbara Sommer specializes in geriatric psychiatry, treating older patients suffering from depression, anxiety, psychosis, and cognitive disorders, often in the context of concomitant medical illnesses. She has practiced in both inpatient and outpatient settings for over thirty years and she has a special interest in the unique primary and side effects of psychiatric medications in older patients also being treated for non-psychiatric disorders. She also is a member of the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) service.
My academic interest is in intellectual function and its adaptability over the course of a persons lifetime despite the stressors placed upon it. My papers have focused on the evaluation of ways in which co-morbid factors such as folic acid deficiency or its administration, or anticholinergic drugs prior to ECT affect cognitive function. Anticholinergic medications deplete brain stores of the acetylcholine, known to be a key neurotransmitter in language acquisition and memory storage and retrieval. These drugs not only worsen symptoms of Alzheimers disease, but are known to cause delirium when given in high doses. I have been interested in the long-term effects of these drugs and whether cognitive impairment is prolonged.