About Us

Interested in learning about the human brain and its basic functions inclusive of learning and memory (including reinforcement learning and memory reconsolidation), decision-making, self-control/regulation and self-awareness/insight? Wondering about the use for this purpose of a multimodality imaging approach, encompassing MRI, PET, EEG/ERPs and neuropsychological measures? Looking for a hands-on experience in developing cutting-edge sensitive, reliable and valid behavioral probes that can be used for clinical purposes (including outcome prediction and treatment tailoring)? Interested in using state-of-the-art machine learning techniques and computational models to develop predictive clinical markers from these datasets?

At the Neuropsychoimaging of Addiction and Related Conditions (NARC) Research Program, we study the neurobiology of substance use disorders and common comorbid problem behaviors and psychopathologies such as aggression and intermittent explosive disorder. Our focus is multidisciplinary, cross-modal and translational.

We use imaging techniques including functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), electroencephalogram (EEG), and positron emission tomography (PET) to inspect brain changes in blood-oxygen level dependent function, white matter microstructure, electrical conductivity, glucose metabolism and receptor availability. Our approach is grounded within a broader context of understanding the brain networks and circuits that underlie  impairments in inhibitory control and reward processing, core symptoms of drug addiction. We develop sensitive behavioral and neuropsychological assays to intersect with non-invasive neuromodulation spanning transcranial direct current stimulation, neurofeedback, pharmacology, cognitive and mindfulness strategies, applying  multi-modal neurobehavioral methods to identify and perturb disease markers. An example of our recent focus is the examination of  the nuanced relationship between the brain and speech via natural language processing. We supplement our understanding of addiction neurobiology with genetic, inflammatory, and cardiologic markers, together optimizing the translational capacity of our research.

We anchor our results within the theoretical framework of the impaired response inhibition and salience attribution (iRISA) model of drug addiction, which posits that individuals with drug addiction ascribe excessive salience to drugs and drug related cues at the expense of nondrug cues and reinforcers with concomitant decreases in self-control. Emphasizing the relevance of the prefrontal cortex in drug addiction, we develop new, or tailor existing, cognitive neuroimaging paradigms to augment our mechanistic understanding of the neurobiology of drug addiction and advance clinically relevant interventions.