Current Research Projects
The goals of the Psychiatric NeuroCognition lab are to investigate neural and behavioral markers of cognitive functioning in psychiatric disorders. Our research uses experimental paradigms of attention, decision-making, and emotion regulation in patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as well as healthy individuals. By combining measures of neural activity during task, intrinsic functional connectivity, and structural connectivity using DTI, our work seeks to relate neural circuit mechanisms to behavioral dysfunction. We also have active collaborations with research labs focusing on tics, major depression, and substance abuse, allowing us to investigate differences and similarities across multiple disorders.
Many of the studies described below are currently recruiting subjects. If you are interested in participating in research, please visit the How to Participate section.
Neural mechanisms of switching attention
A key component of human cognition is the ability to switch between various states of attention. Efficient interaction with the environment often requires that individuals disengage from internally focused thought processes to engage with external information. Using fMRI, we are investigating the neural mechanisms associated with switching between internally and externally focused attentional states in both healthy controls and individuals with OCD. We are examining these processes in relation to internally focused thought (future thinking) and sensations (interoception). By linking brain activity during task with measures of intrinsic functional connectivity and white matter tractography, this research works to identify neural circuit biomarkers that can be targeted by neuromodulation/stimulation or cognitive training therapies.
Decision making under risk
Recent research on risk preference indicates that an individual’s willingness to engage in risk-seeking or risk-averse behavior is impacted by the context in which decisions are made. In this line of work, we test a range of external and internal factors that influence such our choices. To test our hypotheses, we use economic models of decision-making in which participants make monetary choices based on their own evaluation of risk. Specifically, we are interested in whether patients with OCD and healthy individuals differ in their choices.
Modulation of the insula using real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging
Exciting new evidence indicates that people can use feedback of the BOLD signal to regulate activity in specific regions of the brain. In this project, we are utilizing real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging (rt-fMRI) to provide participants with on-line feedback from the insula, a part of the brain involved in negative emotions such as disgust and pain. Participants are trained to regulate neural activity in the insula while viewing negative images. This research aims to teach both healthy individuals and those with psychiatric disorders to implement strategies to modulate brain activity in order to improve emotion regulation outside of the experimental setting.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
One Gustave L. Levy
New York, NY 10029