Neurotransmitters & Disease Onset/Progression


An imbalance between inhibitory and excitatory neurotransmission is thought to play an important role in the disease manifest. Glutamate (Glu, excitatory) and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA, inhibitory) are the main neurotransmitters in the brain, which can be measured using MR spectroscopy to assess the relationship between brain metabolites and disease onset or progression in psychiatric and neurologic diseases. The research projects that our lab focuses on are shown below. 

1. Multiparametric MRI in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Speech deficits are prevalent in individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Our group works on understanding the heterogeneity in speech production in individuals with ASD by evaluating functional brain connectivity and neurotransmitters using a multiparameter MR protocol.

2. Glutamatergic Mechanism in Adolescents with Depression

The goal of this project is to identify the neurobiological mechanisms underlying non-response to first-line antidepressants and longer-term clinical courses in depressed adolescents to inform future research on optimizing treatments and motivating the development of novel and more effective therapeutics for this vulnerable population.

3. SKY Breath Intervention for Depressed Adolescents - Clinical Trial ID: NCT05388110

Adolescent-onset depression is associated with prolonged, severe, and recurrent episodes that are often not responsive to treatment. There is a dire need to develop novel treatments that are efficient, cost-effective, and tolerant for this population. Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) is a breath-based meditative practice that entails a sequence of specific breathing techniques to help practitioners achieve a state of calm alertness. The goal of this study is to determine the efficacy of SKY breath intervention in treating depressed adolescents and to understand its mechanisms. This will be the first study to evaluate the potential benefits of SKY breath intervention as a treatment option for depressed adolescents.

Opportunities: Participate in Sky Breath ($250)