Main Research Topics
The lab neurobiological research focuses on understanding neurological psychiatric diseases and on developing novel therapeutic approaches for them. Our basic hypothesis is that alterations in the neuronal communication (i.e., changes in neuronal networks) are responsible or are the consequences of the diseases. We hypothesize that identification of circuitry alterations can be used for diagnosis or for monitoring treatments. Furthermore, we believe that invasive alterations of brain communication (by for example deep brain stimulation) can 'correct' such circuits for the benefit of the patients. Specifically we focus on depression (on its many faces) and on Parkinson disease.
Experimental approach The lab main tool is the noninvasive functional connectivity MRI (fcMRI) and the functional MRI (fMRI) methods. In addition we use the invasive manganese enhance MRI method (MEMRI). FcMRI is used to estimate effective neuronal connectivity and to obtain network representations in humans and in rats. This can be obtained during rest and during emotional arousal states. FMRI is used to obtain an internal measure of the patient arousal state. The MEMRI method is used on rats. It gives the direct effective connectivity of a predefined neuronal target.
The following are now being studying:
• Reproductive depression (mood changes due to hormonal fluctuations in females)
• Cluster network analysis to identify best location for DBS in depression
• Mild cognitive impairments in Parkinson's disease patients
• Brain representation of PTSD patients
• The critical role of the habenula in depression – a study on chronic mild stress rat model.
• Brain representation of 6-OHDA injected rats (a rat model of Parkinson's disease) before and after STN DBS
• Circuitry alterations in prenatal stress rats and the effect of treatment to their mothers.
• Understanding the effect of rapid antidepressant treatment – study on different rat models for depression