Explore This Lab

Overview

The Functional Neurology Research Group uses advanced structural and functional brain magnetic resonance imaging techniques to study the biological basis of Functional Neurological Disorders and related conditions.

Patients with medically unexplained neurological symptoms including Psychogenic Nonepileptic Seizures, Functional Movement Disorders and Functional Weakness experience symptoms that are common yet poorly understood.

The mission of the Functional Neurology Research Group at Massachusetts General Hospital, working in collaboration with researchers at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging and others within the Harvard Medical School hospital community, is to characterize brain circuit abnormalities in Functional Neurological Disorders.

Longitudinal studies also aim to probe brain biomarkers of prognosis and treatment response.

David Perez, MD, MMSc, is a dual trained Neurologist-Psychiatrist and Cognitive-Affective Neuroscientist. Clinically, Dr. Perez works in the Cognitive Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry Units at Mass General to diagnose and treat patients with Functional Neurological Disorders.

Media

The Role of Functional Neuroimaging in Functional Neurological Disorders

Dr. Perez speaks with Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry Podcast Editor, Elizabeth Highton about stepwise functional connectivity, a novel brain imaging technique, and how it might help us better understand the biology of functional neurological disorders.


What can Neurology and Neurosurgery Learn from Psychiatry?

Video recording of a panel discussion with Bruce Price, MD, Ron Alterman, MD, Matcheri Keshavan, MD, and David Perez, MD, MMSc.


Brain scans help unravel the neurobiology of functional neurological (conversion) disorder

A Mass General research team has found altered connectivity among brain regions that handle sensorimotor, emotional and cognitive signaling in patients with functional neurological disorder, a common condition involving neurologic symptoms that have no readily apparent physical cause. Dr. Perez is co-senior author of the paper, which was published online in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry.


Podcast: Assessing and Managing Patients with Functional Neurological Disorders

David Perez and Andrea Leigh Haller discuss the assessment and management of patients with functional neurological disorders.


An Early Interdisciplinary Approach is Vital with FND Patients

(Coverage of a recent paper authored by David Perez, MD, Kathleen McKee, MD, Nicholas Kontos, MD, and colleagues from Massachusetts General Hospital)

Motor functional neurologic disorders (FND)—previously termed “hysteria” and later “conversion disorder”—are exceedingly common and frequently encountered in the acute hospital setting. But despite their high prevalence, patients with motor FND can be challenging to diagnose accurately and manage effectively, say the authors. And, to date, there has been limited guidance on the inpatient approach to the neuropsychiatric evaluation.


BJM Talk Medicine podcast featuring Dr. Perez

Despite the prevalence of the disease, neurologists and psychiatrists can be wary of treating patients with functional neurological disorder (FND). Assistant Professor David Perez (Massachusetts General Hospital, USA) discusses how FND sits between neurological and psychiatric disciplines, the relationship between poor health status and affective symptoms, and associations with grey matter volumetric profiles.


Brain alterations linked with symptoms of PTSD, functional neurologic disorders

Distinct structural alterations in cingulo-insular areas may be found in patients with symptoms of functional neurologic disorders (FNDs), as well as in those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or those who experienced childhood adverse events, suggests new neuroimaging research.


Brain structural changes linked to physical, mental health in functional neurological disorder (conversion disorder)

An imaging study by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators has identified differences in key brain structures of individuals whose physical or mental health has been most seriously impaired by a common but poorly understood condition called functional neurological disorder (FND).

Meet our Team

FACULTY

David Perez

David L. Perez, MD, MMSc

Assistant in Neurology and Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital
Assistant Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School
Affiliated Faculty, Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging


Christopher Stephen

Christopher D. Stephen, MB, ChB, MRCP

Assistant in Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Instructor in Neurology, Harvard Medical School



Julie Maggio, PT, DPT, NCS

Julie Maggio, PT, DPT, NCS

Senior Physical Therapist



LABORATORY STAFF

Anna Larson, BS

Anna Larson, BS

Research Assistant
Graduate of University of Wisonsin–Madison



Priyanka Alluri, BA

Priyanka Alluri, BA

Research Assistant
Graduate of Boston University



Ibaia Diez, PhD

Ibaia Diez, PhD

Research Assistant
Graduate of Boston University



Vihang Nakhate

Vihang Nakhate

Harvard Medical School Student



ALUMNI

Juan Pablo Ospina Botero

Juan Pablo Ospina Botero, MD

Universidad de los Andes, Colombia



Isabelle Gilman

Isabelle Gilman

Summer Research Student
Villanova University



Julie King

Julie King

Summer Research Student
University of Delaware



Rozita JalilianHasanpour, MD

Rozita JalilianHasanpour, MD

Laboratory Research Fellow
Graduate of Tehran University of Medical Sciences



Sara J. Makaretz

Sara J. Makaretz

Tufts University



Nassim Matin, MD, MPH

Nassim Matin, MD, MPH

Laboratory Research Fellow
Graduate of Tehran University of Medical Sciences



Benjamin Williams, BS

Benjamin Williams, BS

Brown University



Sigrid Young

Sigrid Young

Brown University



Research Projects
Neurobiology of Motor Functional Neurological Disorders and Related Conditions

This study uses structural and functional neuroimaging techniques, in conjunction with self-report and research administered questionnaires, to study brain-symptom relationships in patients with psychogenic nonepileptic seizures, functional movement disorders, functional weakness and related conditions.

Research Positions

Visiting Scholar Program: We are enthusiastic about offering external scientists the opportunity to join us in our daily research work and exchange new ideas and perspectives. We welcome individuals at different levels of clinical/academic training, with specific focus on providing students and trainees (undergraduate and graduate students, medical students, residents, and fellows) with exposure to clinical research in the fields of neurology and psychiatry, with a particular emphasis on clinical research in behavioral neurology/neuropsychiatry and Functional Neurological Disorders. Each application is handled and considered individually.

Publications

Visit PubMed to view recent publications by members of our research team.