Goal: Application of MR imaging methods to understand neurobiology of emotional processing and cognitive changes associated with behavioral disorders.
The Cognitive Neuroimaging Laboratory utilizes a variety of MR imaging techniques to identify brain changes in traumatic brain injury, psychiatric disorders and healthy brain development. The lab investigates irregularities in the brains of people who have or are at risk for developing a number of major psychiatric disorders including depression, substance abuse, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Using imaging techniques such as structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) has led to an improved understanding of both developmental and induced brain changes that lead to altered behavior. This knowledge may eventually result in better and more personalized treatments for patients who have or who are vulnerable to psychiatric disorders as well as an evolving understanding of the neurobiology of traumatic brain injuries.
At the Be Well Utah health fair, the Cognitive Neuroimaging Lab informed the community about their current research, solicited participation in current studies, and provided information about area mental health services. These conversations led to discussion about what the lab does, why they do it, and how their work is relevant to the general public. It wasn't just adults who were inquisitive; curious kids were rewarded with a favorite giveaway, squishy stress-relief brains.
The current study aimed to evaluate whether there were activation differences in the motor network - Brodmann's area 4 (BA4), Brodmann's area 6 (BA6), cingulate (CG) and cerebellum - between marijuana (MJ)-using adolescents and healthy controls (HC) on a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) bilateral finger-tapping task. Healthy controls had significantly greater activation than MJ users for the CG and cerebellum. In addition, activation of the cerebellum and CG correlated with lifetime MJ smokes. The study provides evidence for both CG and cerebellar dysfunction in MJ abuse and indicates that lifetime MJ use may impact the developing brain.