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CLINICAL UNIT BASED RESEARCH

Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Program

Outpatient Research
Clinic Info
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As director of McLean's Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Program, Dr. Dost Öngür also heads a research aspect of the program with offices located directly above the inpatient unit on the third floor of the Admissions Building. We are interested in chemical, functional, and structural brain abnormalities in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Our main focus is using neuroimaging techniques to probe the role of the medial prefrontal cortex in these conditions. In collaboration with Dr. Perry Renshaw, we use magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to measure the levels of two major neurotransmitters in the brain, glutamate and GABA (Figure 1). 

Figure 1

Figure 1
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Figure 2

Figure 2
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Figure 3

Figure 3
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Figure 3

Figure 4
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Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Program Staff

Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Program Staff
(click to enlarge)

We also carry out resting state functional MRI studies to examine abnormalities in neural networks subserving ongoing brain function. Figure 2 shows a set of brain areas that are active at rest and share a similar timecourse of activity. The top row represents the average "resting state network" from a group of 15 healthy controls, the middle row 14 schizophrenia patients, and the bottom row 17 bipolar disorder patients. It is clear that there are broad similarities in the brain areas in this network across conditions, but there are also subtle differences, which we are currently investigating.

Figure 3 shows significant differences in default mode network spatial extent between normal control and bipolar disorder subjects in whole brain analysis mapped onto parasagittal, coronal, and axial slices from a single subjects' structural image in Talairach space; A) Normal control > Bipolar disorder; B) Bipolar disorder > Normal control. In each panel, average z-scores from a highlighted cluster are shown for normal control (gray) and bipolar disorder (black) groups. p=0.001, uncorrected; spatial extent > 25 voxels.

Figure 4 shows metabolite signal decay due to T2 relaxation. The panel on the right shows the first fast Fourier transformed echo of a control subject dataset from the ACC. To the left are sets of 48 spectral fragments around the metabolite peak of interest (tNAA, tCr, or tCho) as indicated by the horizontal lines. There are 3 sets each from one control and one BD subject, and they span the 30 - 500 ms range (left to right) in 10 ms increments. Each series is presented with spectral amplitude normalized to the first spectrum for presentation purposes. The difference in signal decay due to T2 relaxation is evident: fastest in tCr, followed by tCho, and finally by tNAA.

Personnel

Recent Publications

Current Studies

  1. MRI studies of Brain Chemistry and Function in Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia
  2. Genetic Association Studies in Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia
  3. Cognitive Functioning in Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia
  4. MRI studies of auditory hallucinations

05.2013