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Laboratory for Addiction and Brain Imaging

Houston, Texas

Laboratory for Addiction and Brain Imaging
Laboratory for Addiction and Brain Imaging
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Laboratory for Addiction and Brain Imaging

The main goal of our lab is to understand the role of the cholinergic system, and more specifically the habenula, on addition and other psychiatric conditions. We are also interested in how genetic variants affect the way humans perceive reward and disappointment, which we think is related to the risk of becoming addicted. To study these questions, we use functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging in humans while they engage in reward-related tasks.

Current Projects:

  • Imaging of the habenula in the human brain

    Because of its small size, few human brain imaging studies describe habenular activity. We developed a new statistical method and found habenular activity in control subjects upon "disappointment", or negative prediction error.

  • Functional brain imaging of Addiction

    We showed before that in mice, the habenula is necessary for the appearance of nicotine withdrawal signs. We are currently studying the activity of the habenula in sated and abstinent smokers.

  • The role of the habenula in depression

    Many depressed patients do not respond to medication. The habenula has been shown to be a novel target for anti-depression. We study the activity of the habenula in depression patients and its responds to anti-depression medication.

  • Datamining of the Allen Atlas

    The pace at which we acquire genetic data is increasingly fast, and new methods to analyze it are needed. We developed a script that mines the Allen Atlas and outputs the average expression of genes involved in a phenotype in mice brains.

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