Email

cnievergelt@ucsd.edu

Group Leaders: Rajendra A. Morey MD, Mark Logue PhD, Delin Sun PhD, and Jennifer Stevens PhD

Neuroimaging Workgroup will facilitate the creation of a large PTSD-focused neuroimaging data set to investigate genomic markers for association to cortical and subcortical volumes such as hippocampus, amygdala, and medial prefrontal cortex structures as well as regional cortical thickness changes that are associated with PTSD. Genomic markers found to predict imaging QTs may have a role in PTSD symptoms or diagnoses The PGC group members have a large number of participating groups with neuroimaging data. Within the PGC–PTSD there are over 5000 samples that will have both structural MRI and GWAS data available. Smaller data sets of DTI, resting-state fMRI, MEG, and other imaging modalities are also available. These data will allow the investigation of how genomic markers modulate neuroimaging quantitative traits (QTs) associated with PTSD. The uncertainty associated with psychiatric nosology makes reference to an intermediate biological variable attractive, as the heritability of intermediate phenotypes such as regional brain volumes is often 80% or higher.For further detail, please see the workgroup grant.

Rajendra Morey MD, MS

Dr. Morey is Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Duke University and Director of the Neuroimaging Core at the Durham VA Medical Center. He is a clinician-scientist motivated by a keen interest in understanding structural and functional brain changes associated with neuropsychiatric disorders, as well as their environmental and genetic modulators. In the area of PTSD, he uses functional MRI to elucidate how PTSD symptoms alter the balance of prefrontal-limbic signaling during tasks of executive function, emotion distraction, symptom provocation, and memory. He has conducted several methodological studies with MRI examining morphometry and volumetry in the medial temporal lobe and subcortical structures to help guide investigators in selecting brain segmentation strategies. His is focused on investigating promising genetic modulators of brain dysfunction in PTSD. He co- leads the PTSD Neuroimaging Working Group in the PGC and ENIGMA where he has formulated a blue print to identify replicable genetic associations and new insights into the biological underpinnings of PTSD at a scope that is unprecedented in the field of traumatic stress. These efforts have triggered a renewed impetus and a sharpened focus on investigating structural and functional brain differences, their genetic determinants, environmental modulators, and investigating the genetic vulnerability to the effects of trauma and the onset of PTSD.

Mark Logue, PhD

Dr. Logue is Assistant Professor of Biomedical Genetics at Boston University School of Medicine and an Investigator at the National Center for PTSD. Dr Logue’s research involves the using computational tools and sound statistical principals to investigate disease risk. Most often this has been related to the study of how genes influence risk of psychiatric and neurological disorders including panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease. To unravel this complexity, information must be integrated from a variety of sources, including families with a multiple affected individuals, large case-control study samples, and samples from different ancestral populations. The type of genetic data that can be examined is similarly diverse and includes microsatellite markers, single nucleotide polymorphisms, and base-pair level sequence data. The net effect of these genetic changes can be examined using high- throughput methods to measure gene expression and genetic methylation patterns. Dr. Logue the PI of a career-development award (K-01) from NIMH and co-leads the PTSD Neuroimaging Working Group in the PGC and ENIGMA.

Delin Sun, Ph.D.

Delin Sun is a senior research scientist at Duke University. His current research interests are to understand the neural anatomy and neural functions of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He is also interested in social neuroscience, including  face recognition (expression, attractiveness and familiarity),  social interaction (dishonesty, cooperation) and affective processing. Delin’s research methods include behavioral, neuroimaging (MRI/fMRI) and neurophysiological (EEG/ERP) recordings.

Jennifer Stevens, Ph.D.

Photo of Jennifer Stevens

Jennifer S. Stevens is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Emory University, and Co-Director of the Grady Trauma Project. She received her BS in Psychology at the University of Georgia, and PhD in Cognitive and Developmental Psychology at Emory. She uses neuroimaging approaches to probe brain function in healthy individuals, and neurobiological pathways promoting stress vulnerability or resilience. Neural circuits supporting emotional arousal and memory encoding are particularly important for adapting to trauma and other forms of environmental stress. She has investigated individual differences in these circuits in normative and trauma-exposed populations of adults and children. A second major theme of her research has been to understand sex differences in emotion-related brain function, and the brain basis of womens increased risk for trauma-related psychopathology. She addresses these questions using cognitive tasks to probe behavioral and subjective aspects of emotion and memory, and neurobiological measures such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), scalp electrophysiology, and autonomic physiological measures. Her research also combines genomics and cognitive neuroscience research to characterize stress vulnerability pathways that link SNPs, expression and methylation, neural circuits, and behavior. Her work on the effects of trauma on the brain has been continuously funded by the NIMH, DoD, and VA. Dr. Stevens is a member of the ENIGMA-PGC-PTSD Neuroimaging working group, and an Investigator at the Center for Visual and Neurocognitive Rehabilitation within the Atlanta VA Health Care System.