Current Research Projects

The laboratory is presently conducting the following studies:

  1. Positron Emission Tomographic Study of Cerebral Blood Flow During Traumatic Mental Imagery in PTSD (Roger K. Pitman, Principal Investigator). The major goal of this study is to evaluate which regions of the brain are selectively activated during traumatic re-experiencing.
  2. Secondary Prevention of PTSD with Propranolol (Roger K. Pitman, Principal Investigator). The major goal of this project is to investigate the effectiveness of the beta-adrengergic blocker propranolol in preventing the development of PTSD in persons presenting to the MGH Emergency Department following a traumatic experience.
  3. Prospective Psychophysiologic Study of Risk for PTSD (Scott P. Orr, Principal Investigator). The major goal of this project is to examine a promising set of pre-trauma psychophysiologic, endocrinologic, and psychometric measures for their ability to predict the occurrence of PTSD following exposure to traumatic events in firefighter/EMT and police recruits.
  4. Testing the Efficacy of Intranasal Oxytocin for the Prevention of Postpartum Depression (Sharon Dekel, Principal Investigator). This novel pilot study is testing a preventive intervention for women at risk for postpartum depression. It examines the effect of intranasal oxytocin in enhancing maternal bonding and reducing postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms in mothers at risk. We are currently enrolling participants. To learn more about this study, contact Dr. Dekel at sdekel@mgh.harvard.edu or 617-726-1352.
  5. Incidence of and Risk Factors for Postpartum Post-traumatic Stress (Sharon Dekel, Principal Investigator). This study examines how a woman’s experience of childbirth relates to her mental health and wellbeing. Women are followed during pregnancy and through the postpartum period in order to learn about potential incidences of post-traumatic stress following childbirth. To learn more about the study, contact the Principal Investigator Dr. Sharon Dekel at sdekel@mgh.harvard.edu or 617-726-1352.

Additional studies are in planning. The laboratory also provides consultation to other MGH faculty, residents, pre and post doctoral fellows, and students regarding PTSD research design and implementation.

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