Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD and the Bressler Program for Autism Spectrum Disorders: Research Activities
Our neuroimaging program uses a variety of technologies to gain insight into the brain systems underlying childhood psychiatric conditions. With non-invasive Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) we can analyze brain volumes, brain function, cortical thickness, the integrity of white matter tracts, and brain biochemistry among others. We also use Positron Emission Tomography (PET), to measure the flow of different substances (including drugs or oxygen) in the brain.
Our neuroimaging research focuses on the following topics:
- ADHD across the lifespan
- Autism Spectrum Disorders
- Children at risk for mood disorders
- Predicting response to medication treatment using neuroimaging
- Genetic imaging
- Emotional dysregulation
We use rodent research for understanding the neural basis of common disorders such as ADHD, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD, as well as to gain better understanding of the mechanisms of action of stimulant medications and the effects of long-term stimulant treatment on brain structure and function at cellular, molecular and system levels. The animal models offer unprecedented insight into the mechanisms of drug action in the central nervous system and permit us to design and develop safe and highly efficacious novel treatments for ADHD and other neuropsychiatric conditions.
Cognition is a central issue that affects all individuals regardless of their psychiatric diagnosis. Understanding the cognitive processes of individuals suffering from emotional and behavioral disorders can be helpful in making recommendations for their education, vocation, and types of therapeutic interventions. Our Cognition research strives to find commonalities and differences in individuals from the different disorders we study. Our studies on executive functions (the part of the brain that assists with attention, impulsivity, planning and organization) have been especially fruitful and helped to elucidate the impact of cognition on functional outcomes. By understanding the cognitive processes within a particular disorder, we begin to understand more about brain functioning, which may lead to better treatment interventions.
Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Research
Our Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Research Program conducts research on all aspects of the disorder with a focus on the clinical course, neurobiology and treatment across the lifecycle. This includes research on both children and adults with ADHD, as well as long term follow up studies examining the course of the disorder as children mature into adulthood.
A very important aspect of our work is conducting studies of comorbid (co-occurring) psychiatric and cognitive disorders, as well as conducting genetic and neuroimaging research on ADHD across the lifecycle. We investigate the safety and efficacy of new treatments for ADHD and its associated conditions. Our program publishes dozens of scientific articles on ADHD every year.
Our ADHD research focuses on the following topics:
- Emotional Regulation in ADHD
- Executive function in ADHD
- Ways to improve adherence to treatment
- Predicting responses to medication treatment using neuroimaging
- Concussions and their relationship to ADHD
- PTSD and its relationship to ADHD
- New treatments for ADHD and related symptoms
Autism Spectrum Disorders Research
Our program conducts research on all aspects on Autism Spectrum Disorders, including treatment, genetics, and comorbid disorders. We focus on research that can improve the lives of individuals (both children and adults) with high-functioning Autism. By better understanding the neurobiology, the lifetime course of Autism, and co-occurring disorders, we are able use findings from research to improve care for people with Autism spectrum disorders.
In addition, we investigate the efficacy of new and old treatments for Autism-related symptoms.
Our Autism Spectrum Disorders Research focuses on the following:
- Neuroimaging to better understand brain function in individuals with Autism.
- Genetics of Autism
- ADHD and Autism
- Anxiety and Autism
- Social cognition in people with Autism
- Cognitive rigidity in Autism
- Treatments for Autism-related symptoms
For more information, visit the Bressler Program home page.
Pediatric Bipolar Disorder Research
Our pediatric bipolar disorder research focuses on understanding risks for mood disorders and treating children with mood disorders. Through this research we aim to improve the lives of children and families coping with the disorder, and improve care for individuals struggling with mood disorders.
A particular area of interest in our research is in understanding what puts children at risk for developing mood disorders. Using neuroimaging and genetics, we examine children with siblings who have been diagnosed with a bipolar spectrum disorder, and children with early symptoms of mood disorder (such as difficulties regulating emotions). In addition, we investigate the efficacy of new and old treatments for children with mood disorders.
Our current research focuses on the following:
- Natural treatments for children with mood disorders
- Neuroimaging to understand who may be at risk for developing mood disorders
- Medication treatment in children with mood disorders