Cognitive Phenotypes

Cognitive Phenotypes

Project 4

Cognitive Phenotype Neural Circuitry in Vivo In Mood Disorders and Suicidal Behavior

Studying Cognitive Phenotypes
Studying the neural mechanisms underlying clinical dysfunction

Over the past decade, an important approach to describing and treating psychiatric disorders has been the application of cognitive neuroscience techniques to understanding the neural mechanisms underlying clinical dysfunction.

For example, individuals with major depressive disorder may show low activation of neural systems implicated in cognitive control found in the dorsal and ventrolateral prefrontal cortical brain regions; and excess activation in regions implicated in triggering emotional responses, such as the amygdala.

Of particular interest to us is the extent to which such patterns may be related to suicide risk associated with depressive episodes. Building on PET and postmortem work, our research team has shown that low function in ventrolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate brain regions and lower serotonin transporter binding in the amygdala and ventral/orbital prefrontal cortex may contribute to the risk of suicide or nonfatal suicide attempts.

We seek to clarify these links, building on an emerging model of the cognitive control of emotion in healthy adults to examine the neural bases of a specific cognitive strategy for emotion regulation known as reappraisal. We have developed a novel autobiographical memory task to assess responses to recollection of personalized event triggers. Our preliminary data suggests that response to such memories and the ability to regulate such responses may relate to suicide risk.


Using Functional MRI and Personalized Cognitive Tasks to Study Suicide Risk Related to Emotional Reactivity, Regulation and Memory.

In Project 4, we will compare the neural correlates of emotional reactivity, regulation and memory in depressed suicide attempters and nonattempters and healthy volunteers to determine whether depressed individuals in general, and those who attempt suicide in particular:

  • have more intense and longer-lasting emotional and behavioral responses to unpleasant emotional stimuli;
  • show an impact on amygdala-hippocampal interactions affecting memory for subsequent neutral events; and
  • that responses to such stimuli will relate to clinical and neuroinflammatory characteristics being studied in the same research participants in Projects 3 and 5.


How To Participate In This Study

Please click here for information on how to participate in this study as a patient or healthy volunteer.

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