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Neuroimaging Research Projects

Alzheimer's Disease

Hippocampal and parietal network changes among subjects in the early phases of AD and relationship with CSF biomarkers

Principal Investigator: Arnold Bakker, Ph.D.  (IRB00055187)
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology can be observed in the brain many years or even decades before the onset of the resulting dementia, providing a window of opportunity where intervention may have the greatest chance of success. This study aims to shed light on the relationship between changes in neural networks, cognitive performance and the accumulation of AD pathology in the brain in subjects across the early spectrum of disease. To accomplish this, the project will employ high-resolution neuroimaging of hippocampal and parietal network function and examine functional connectivity between these networks and their association with CSF measures of Aβ, tau and p-tau in subjects along the prodromal continuum of AD. These methods will be employed in healthy control subjects, subjects with subjective memory concerns, and subjects with mild cognitive impairment.

Multimodal MRI studies of memory systems in healthy and memory-impaired young and older adults

Principal Investigator: Arnold Bakker, Ph.D.
IRB # NA_00046839
The purpose of this project is to learn how different parts of the brain, in particular the medial temporal lobe regions, support learning and memory functions. By studying healthy and memory-impaired individuals we can gain a better understanding of how damage to certain brain areas may result in problems with memory. In addition, studying young and older adults enables us to document and understand age-related changes in the brain and in memory systems, and potentially lead to interventions that may assist individuals with age-related memory impairment.

Levetiracetam and memory function

Principal Investigator: Gregory Krauss, M.D.
IRB # NA_00030573
This project is a clinical trial to investigate the effectiveness of levetiracetam in improving brain activity and memory performance in individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). Patients with mild cognitive impairment receive drug or placebo for a period of time after which participants complete cognitive testing and fMRI testing to determine the efficacy of levetiracetam in treating memory impairment in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease. For more information about this study and future clinical trials of levetiracetam see www.Hope4MCI.org.
This study is no longer recruiting participants.

Bipolar Disorder

Imaging Study of Lithium Response in Bipolar Disorder

Principal Investigator: Pamela Mahon, Ph.D.
IRB  # NA_00049892
The primary objective of this study is to identify brain features that are associated with treatment response to lithium. Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness. The treatment of choice for this disorder is the mood stabilizer lithium. However, responses vary greatly between patients with similar symptoms. While lithium is effective for some patients, others receive little benefit from lithium, and instead need to take other mood stabilizers. Unfortunately, there are limited predictors to guide physicians in medication selections and many patients need weeks or even months of trial-and-error approach. Some of our other studies have taken a genetics approach to finding possible predictors of lithium response. This study will take an imaging approach to look for predictors of lithium response in brain structures.

Eating Disorders

Neurobehavioral influences on body weight

Principal Investigator: Susan Carnell, Ph.D.
IRB # NA_00092328
This series of studies is partly funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The overall goal is to understand the neurobehavioral basis of obesity, familial obesity risk, and genetic obesity risk, in adolescence (14-18 y) and childhood (8-13 y). To do this we are recruiting healthy-weight and overweight adolescents, children and their biological mothers, as well as a smaller sample of adults (male and female). Specific objectives are to:

  • Use behavioral and neuroimaging methods to investigate the neurobehavioral correlates of obesity and familial obesity risk
  • Use behavioral and neuroimaging methods to explore the neurobehavioral correlates of obesity and genetic obesity risk, as assessed by a selection of obesity and appetite-associated variants

Parkinson's Disease

High-resolution neuroimaging in Parkinson’s disease

Principal Investigator: Gregory Pontone, M.D. 
IRB # NA_00087276
The primary objective of this study is to use neuropsychological assessment and high-resolution MRI to examine the role of the hippocampus and surrounding cortices in cognitive impairment in Parkinson's disease. As a secondary objective we aim to determine if cognitive impairment observed in PD is due to comorbid AD pathology (i.e. similar functional and structural changes).

Anxiety in Parkinson’s: Use of quantitative methods to guide rational treatment

Principal Investigator: Gregory Pontone, M.D.
IRB # NA_00092051
This project aims to provide further characterization of anxiety syndrome in PD patients with respect to their association with the on- and off- motor state, their existing psychiatric state, and treatment response. Participation involves one visit of three to four hours. A subset of subjects will enter an 8-week intervention study for anxiety in PD comparing the medication pramipexole to placebo.