Medical Student Research Fellowship for Summer 2006
Mentor: Carol A. Tamminga, M.D.
Co-Mentor: Mujeeb U. Shad, M.D.
Room number: NC5.112D
Mail Code: 9070
Phone number: 214-648-4924
Project title: To investigate relationship between structure of specific brain regions and cognitive functioning in schizophrenia
Human subjects IRB approved project number (where applicable): Pending
Animal subjects IRB approved project number (where applicable): NA
Project Type (patient-based research, animal-based research, or basic research; this characterization is only to permit a general classification for grouping similar types of projects) patient based research
Brief Description of Project:
Objective: The primary goal of this exploratory study will be to enhance our understanding of the neurobiology of cognitive deficits and psychopathology in schizophrenia through structural imaging.
Background: Despite significant advances in schizophrenia research, the neurobiological basis of schizophrenia, especially in relation to its cognitive deficits and psychopathology is not well understood. Neuroimaging, in general, has provided a valuable tool to enhance our understanding in this challenging area. These days a number of different neuroimaging methods are available to enhance our understanding into neurobiology of schizophrenia. One such method is structural imaging, which although a crude method to assess brain functioning, provides a concrete evidence of structural (and potentially functional) alterations in brain regions, thus providing a substrate for designing more sophisticated studies such as functional imaging and spectroscopy to explore the functional aspects of structural changes in schizophrenia.
Methods: We will obtain MRI scans from first-episode schizophrenia subjects by using a Siemens 3T Trio system. We will conduct morphometric assessments on specific brain regions (e.g. dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and its sub-regions, anterior cingulate cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, hippocampus, cerebellum etc.), which are thought to mediate cognitive deficits and other psychopathology observed in schizophrenia subjects. For this purpose schizophrenia subjects will be recruited from in- and out-patient psychiatric departments of affiliated hospitals with UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. We will primarily focus on recruiting first-episode schizophrenia subjects since this population does not have the confounding effects of chronic use of antipsychotic medications and illness chronicity. The morphometric assessments will employ Voxel-Based Morphometry (VBM) analysis to generate hypothesis and Region of Interest (ROI) analysis for hypothesis confirmation.
Significance: Although purely exploratory in beginning, this study will provide valuable pilot information to design future studies in an effort to increase our understaning of neurobiology of cognitive deficits and other psychopathology in first-episode schizophrenia.
Previous Research Activities or Publications with Medical Students:
Jamie Raju: Abstract presentation - 2006
Christopher Starnes: Abstract presentation - 2006
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