To read brainSTIM's 'Center Highlight' featuring Center Scientist Nicholas Balderston PhD, click here.
Nick Balderston, PhD, is an experimental psychologist focusing on anxiety. His research uses psychophysiology, neuroimaging, and neuromodulation to develop and test brain-behavior hypotheses aimed at understanding the mechanisms that mediate clinical anxiety. Dr. Balderston was a postdoctoral fellow in the NIMH Intramural Research Program working with Christian Grillon. From there, he became a Research Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, and joined the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Neuromodulation in Depression and Stress (CNDS).
Brian Erickson, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor at Drexel University's Cognitive Neuroengineering and Wellbeing Research Lab (CogNeW). Dr. Erickson's main interest is in connecting technology to neurology to improve health outcomes, develop of cognitive enhancements for healthy people, and discover principles of communication between the brain and machines, and utilizes his background in engineering frequently when approaching his work in cognitive neuroscience. His primary projects involve brain stimulation (TMS), non-invasive recording (EEG and MRI), and network theory.
Research Assistant Professor of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania
Adjunct Professor of Cognitive Psychology, Drexel University
Research Associate, Laboratory for Cognition and Neural Stimulation (LCNS), University of Pennsylvania
Kelly Sloane, MD, received her B.A. in Classics at University of Pennsylvania. She received her M.D. from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and went on to complete her residency in Neurology at Johns Hopkins Hospital. After residency, she earned fellowships in Vascular Neurology at Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital as well as Neurorecovery at Mass General/Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.
Dr. Sloane’s clinical and research interests focus on recovery of cognitive function after stroke as well as healthcare technology. She has led studies on motor-cognitive recovery after stroke and technology-based cognitive assessment tools, and she is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications of her research. In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Sloane is also a Co-Primary Investigator at the University of Pennsylvania's Laboratory for Cognition and Neural Stimulation (LCNS).
Center Highlight: Nicholas Balderston, PhD
Every month, the brainSTIM Center likes to spotlight the exciting work and research going on in the labs and practices of our faculty steering committee, center scientists, and affiliated faculty members. This month’s highlight features Center Scientist Nicholas Balderston, PhD.
Nicholas Balderston, PhD, is an experimental psychologist with a focus in anxiety. He is a Research Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, and is also an Investigator at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Neuromodulation in Depression & Stress. In his research, Dr. Balderston uses psychophysiology, neuroimaging, and TMS to study how the brain shapes behavior.
Dr. Balderston first became interested in neuroscience during his first brain behavior class while pursuing his BA in Psychology at the University of West Florida. Dr. Balderston’s interest was sparked by the class’ explorations into how perception and consciousness shape our everyday experience from a neuroscience perspective. Following his undergrad, Dr. Balderston went on to acquire his MS in Experimental Psychology and his PhD in Experimental Psychiatry & Neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. Throughout his graduate training and postgraduate training, Dr. Balderston cultivated his existing interests in the objective measures of behavior.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Balderston has used psychophysiology and neuroimaging to determine how the brain contributes to behavior, with a focus on the brain’s arousal during threat. His primary research focuses mostly on the examination of the mechanism in the brain that makes people anxious. As he continued his research into brain-behavior connections, Dr. Balderston determined that he needed to experimentally manipulate brain responses to test his existing hypotheses.
This determination is what led him to explore the use of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in the research and treatment of anxiety. Currently, Dr. Balderston is developing methods to increase the accuracy of TMS targeting. He also a paper in press at Neuropsychopharmacology that correlates depression symptoms with functional connectivity and attempts to identify the most efficient targets for decreasing symptoms.
Additionally, Dr. Balderston is conducting a current research effort to examine the effect of continuous theta burst stimulation (cTBS) to the right d1PFC on anxiety expression during unpredictable threat, and is also starting a new study which uses similar methods to target the parietal cortex.
When looking to the future, Dr. Balderston would like to create a two-prong research program in his lab that utilizes psychophysiology, fMRI, and TMS to develop novel ideas about anxiety, behavior, and the brain itself, as well as conducting higher impact clinical trials which would use TMS to reduce anxiety in patients. Overall, Dr. Balderston would not only like to see improvements in the use of TMS in his lab, but would like to collaborate across the University to eventually establish general principles regarding how TMS changes brain connectivity, and design treatments accordingly.
In addition to his current studies, Dr. Balderston frequently collaborates with his fellow CNDS faculty members Yvette Sheline, MD, and Desmond Oathes, PhD, who are also noted members of the brainSTIM family. He expresses an interest in collaborating with brainSTIM faculty steering committee members and his fellow center scientists, specifically with respect to e-field modeling.
To learn more about Dr. Balderston and his work with the CNDS, click here.
To get updates about the CNDS’ ongoing speaker series, click here.