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Division of Psychiatric Neuroimaging

The Division of Psychiatric Neuroimaging (PNI) is active in neuropsychiatric research using imaging methods such as MRI, fMRI, PET and DTI to understand the mechanisms and brain networks underlying human cognition. PNI faculty have published hundreds of papers on a variety of brain disorders which include but are not limited to Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. Faculty in the division have been awarded numerous peer-reviewed grants by the National Institutes of Health, foundations and other funding organizations.

The Division collaborates with researchers at the Kennedy-Krieger Institute, the F.M. Kirby Research Center for Functional Imaging, the Center for Imaging Science at the Johns Hopkins School of Engineering, the Sheppard Pratt Health System, and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. PNI faculty members train undergraduate and graduate students as well as post-doctoral fellows, providing a unique training opportunity to conduct basic and translational research in a clinical setting.

On these pages learn about our faculty, staff and collaboratorsour ongoing research projects, as well as our courses and training opportunities. If you are interested in volunteering to be a research subject, please see the Department's Volunteers Needed section. If you are interested in contributing through philanthropy, please see the Department’s Philanthropy section.

If you are an investigator interested in adding neuroimaging methods to your research, please refer to the Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Core.


Faculty, Staff and Collaborators


Neuroimaging Research Projects

  • 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
    This study is no longer recruiting participants.

  • 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.

  • The impact of hypothalamic gliosis on appetite regulation and obesity risk in children (Brain Effects on Appetite & Metabolism – BEAM)

    We are conducting a study of the brain and appetite in children (9-11 y old). The study involves MRI scans, 1 blood draw, 2 urine collections, body composition measurements (height, weight, waist, body composition and energy expenditure), questionnaires, buffet meals, games, and prizes. There will be 5 total study visits spread over a span of 24 months. Compensation is up to $345 plus parking costs. If interested, please call 410-955-5099 or email [email protected]. PI: Susan Carnell, PhD (IRB #: NA_00210835). Download flyer

  • 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.


Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Core

Neuroimaging approaches provide a continuously expanding suite of tools to examine brain networks foundational to cognition, cognitive impairment and neuropsychiatry. Principal investigators increasingly aim to add neuroimaging methods to their research particularly given the recent focus on multidisciplinary approaches to questions in neuroscience and psychiatry. Although online resources as well as national training courses exist, the complexity of both experimental design and image analysis methods as well as the computational resources required for the implementation of such methods are often beyond the means of an individual investigator.

Our Mission: To provide neuroimaging expertise and support to DPBS investigators who are interested in incorporating neuroimaging methods into their research.

The Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Core provides investigators with local expertise in experimental design, implementation, data collection, data analysis as well as preparation of results for grant submissions, progress reports or publications. Services range from consultation on specific design or analysis questions to the design, implementation of complete neuroimaging experiments including data processing, analysis and reporting in support of a PI’s research or application for support.

We provide the following services to members of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences:

    • Introduction to neuroimaging methods
    • Experimental task design and programming
    • Neuroimaging data acquisition and analysis
    • Consultation to define hypotheses
    • Definition of experimental design
    • Design and development of neuroimaging tasks
    • Definition of neuroimaging sequences
    • Implementation of experimental design
    • Acquisition of neuroimaging data
    • Pre-processing and quality assurance
    • Neuroimaging data analysis and interpretation
    • Neuroimaging data storage and archiving
    • High-throughput data processing
    • Figures, tables, 3D renderings for grant applications, progress reports or manuscripts
    • Methods and results sections for grant applications, progress reports or manuscripts
    • Presentations for lectures or poster sessions

Contact Us

Phone: 410-502-6944

Email: [email protected]

Fax: 410-614-3676

Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Division of Psychiatric Neuroimaging
600 North Wolfe Street
Phipps Building, Suite 300
Baltimore, MD 21287, USA

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