Recent years have witnessed an explosion of interest in neuroimaging the human brain and in using it to identify biomarkers for brain-based disease. However, the field generally conceives of neuroimaging as revealing disease-specific activation areas or networks, rather than self-interacting circuits whose trajectories evolve over time. In this talk, we’ll argue that our goals of detecting and predicting disease may require neuroimaging to go beyond brain “mapping,” to learn from fields as diverse as electrical engineering, financial modeling, and chaos theory. We suggest approaches towards understanding the brain that pinpoint key points of failure in circuit regulation which, depending upon how it breaks, may lead to a wide variety of signs and symptoms that cluster as different psychiatric diagnoses. We’ll look at several examples, discussing: how clinical anxiety and dangerous recklessness may be much more closely related than one might think, how dynamics are constrained by structure in ways that might give insight to our understanding of epilepsy, as well as how a systems-based approach might change our thinking about why some people lose cognitive ability with age. Throughout, we’ll discuss why these newer trends in neuroimaging offer the tantalizing possibility of taking a first step towards personalized medicine with respect to brain-based disease.
Lilianne R. Mujica-Parodi is Director of the Laboratory for Computational Neurodiagnostics at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, as well as Associate Neuroscientist and Lecturer in the Department of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Dr. Mujica-Parodi received her B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Georgetown University and Columbia University, respectively, studying mathematical logic and foundations of physics (Niles G. Whiting Fellow). She was faculty at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons until being recruited to Stony Brook in 2003.
Dr. Mujica-Parodi’s multi-disciplinary laboratory interfaces between the fields of physics, mathematics, engineering, psychiatry, and neurology, in developing cutting-edge neuroimaging tools to study brain-based disorders in humans. In 2009, her team provided the first neurobiological evidence for human alarm pheromones, a landmark discovery that garnered international media attention.
She is the recipient of the National Science Foundation Career Award (2010), the White House’s Presidential Award (2011), as well as serving as Chair of a national panel designed to expand the role of neuroimaging in clinical psychiatry and neurology (2012-2014). Her patent-pending fMRI calibration instrument, designed to dramatically increase detection-sensitivity for clinical neurodiagnostics, will be manufactured and commercialized by ALA Scientific Instruments, Inc.
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