Subject Neuroscience

Quantitative Methods for Brain Connectivity Network Estimation & Inference in Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Brain functional connectivity maps have been utilized to learn about differences of brain activation patterns between disease groups via clustering voxels based on their connectivity patters. This project develops general frameworks for estimating associations of brain connectivity maps with predictors of interest after controlling for confounders using a statistical modeling approach that allows for using the special structure of covariance outcomes for improved parameter estimation.

Regional Atrophy as a Biological Correlate of MS Progression

Despite a wealth of treatments for relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS), developing effective treatments for progressive forms of MS remains a significant unmet need. Because the neurogenerative component of the disease often dominates over the inflammatory component in PMS, imaging outcomes commonly used in RRMS clinical trials, such as new T2 lesions and gadolinium-enhancing lesions, are insensitive outcomes in PMS. In fact, the optimal primary outcome measure for phase II and phase III PMS clinical trials is not well established.

Electronic Cigarettes During Pregnancy: Impact on Fetal Development

Use of electronic cigarettes has increased dramatically in the US; recent reports suggest that rates are also increasing in pregnant women. Despite known vulnerability of the developing fetus to nicotine, the impact of maternal e-cigarette use on the developing fetus is currently unknown. The proposed study addresses an urgent and unanswered public health question regarding the impact of e-cigarettes and relative impact of e-cigarettes versus conventional cigarettes on fetal development using novel two and three-dimensional ultrasonography.

Prenatal Marijuana: Impact on Infant Neurobehavior, Stress, & Epigenetic Mechanisms

Despite increasing availability, use, and potency of cannabis in the US, little is known regarding effects of cannabis use during pregnancy on infant development or biological mechanisms in humans. We propose to establish a prospective prenatal cohort to discern effects of maternal cannabis use during pregnancy on infant neurobehavioral development; we will also test endocannabinoid and glucocorticoid pathways as novel mechanisms underlying effects of prenatal cannabis exposure.

Center for Central Nervous System Function Core B (COBRE)

Purposeful human behavior requires attention, decisions and action, all basic functions mediated by brain networks primarily located in the neocortex but modulated and shaped by sub-cortical processing. Behavioral and brain mechanisms of attention, including vigilance, orienting and perceptual and action selection, are key gateways into high-level function. Thus, in a general and even specific sense, attention, decision-making and the ensuing actions define human mental activities.