The Iowa Neurological Patient Registry is a large research database of people that have experienced an injury to their brain as a result of disease, illness, or surgery. It is housed and maintained at the University of Iowa, within the Department of Neurology at Carver College of Medicine. The data collected vary depending on the individual, but can include cognitive and behavioral testing, mood questionnaires, interviews, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electroencephalography (EEG), and skin conductance response (SCR). Researchers at the University of Iowa use this registry to better understand whether injury to specific brain areas produce reliable cognitive or behavioral outcomes. This approach is called “lesion method neuroscience,” which is why the registry is sometimes nicknamed the “lesion registry.” Information from this registry is also used to study how people recover after a brain injury. In addition, data from participants without brain injury are collected for comparison purposes. Over four thousand people have volunteered to contribute data to the Iowa Neurological Patient Registry.

The registry was established by neurologists Antonio Damasio, MD, and Hanna Damasio, MD, in 1978. In 2005, they were succeeded in leadership by Daniel Tranel, PhD. The registry was initially funded through a National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Program Project Grant from 1983 until 2012. It is currently directly and indirectly supported by the following grants:

In the News!

A photo of Dr. Daniel Tranel sitting in front of a computer displaying a brain scan

Brain Power

Learn more about Iowa's ‘gold mine’ of discovery in cognitive neuroscience.

Aaron Boes, MD, PhD

Addiction and the Brain

Read about how registry research is helping scientists understand how addiction affects the brain.

Tara Fall

Seeing the Bright Side of Face Blindness

Prosopagnosia can cause people to not recognize themselves in the mirror. Read the story of a registry participant who, through research, strives to help increase understanding of this condition.

S.M. Amydala Comparison

Fearless Brain-Damaged Patients are Terrified of Suffocation

Patients with Urbach-Wiethe disease do not feel fear. Read the story of how three patients with this rare condition can, surprisingly, still experience a panic response in at least one situation.

University of Iowa logo in gold

Research Pinpoints Brain's 'Gullibility' Center

Read about the area of the brain responsible for gullibility and why it makes children, teens and seniors less likely to doubt.

A white man smiling with arms crossed in front of bookcases

White Matter vs. Gray Matter

Registry research is helping neurologists and neuropsychologists better predict the long-term effects of strokes and other forms of brain injury.

A photo of Dr. Trapp smiling and sitting in front of a computer displaying a 3D brain image

Large-scale brain lesion study identifies networks linked to greater risk or resiliency for depression symptoms

A study links the location of brain injury to levels of depression in patients. Two distinct brain networks were identified: one associated with increased depression and one associated with decreased depression.

A large cohort of people involved in lesion research, standing and smiling.

The 2023 Iowa Lesion Retreat took place on Friday, October 6. Outstanding talks on past, present and future of lesion research!


Brown, J. (2013, March 15). Brain power: Iowa’s ‘gold mine’ of discovery in cognitive neuroscience. Iowa Now. Retrieved May 19, 2022, from

Tranel, Daniel (2019). Chapter 4: Cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology. In R. Lim, F. Fecto, & G. Richerson (Eds.), 100 years of neurology at the University of Iowa. Iowa City, Iowa: University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, pp. 62-68.