Current Studies

No mood illness is the same. Our brain circuit targeted approach leverages cutting edge neuroscience for personalized treatment.

Click to learn more about some of our ongoing projects:


Using neurofeedback to train the brain to ignore negative stimuli, possibly improving depression

By learning to ignore negative stimuli, it's predicted that your depression could improve. The task involves being shown emotionally positive and negative pictures inside an MRI with the goal of ignoring negative pictures. We'll collect signal from across the whole brain and train an AI classifier to recognize how your brain focuses on each. This allows the AI to change the difficulty of the task and show your performance in response to your brain activity. We hope that the scanning sessions can be completed on 4 sequential days because we think this will produce an optimum treatment effect. However, if that is not possible due to scheduling there is the option to have non-sequential scanning if it's closely spaced

Exploring Vagus Nerve Stimulation (VNS) for the treatment of Treatment-Resistant Depression

Determining if active VNS (Vagus Nerve Stimulation) Therapy compared to a no-stimulation control group improves health outcomes for subjects with Treatment-Resistant Depression. VNS Therapy is FDA approved device for Depression. This study is being conducted at the request of the Centers of Medicare &Medicaid services (CMS) to show VNS Therapy treatment is reasonable and necessary to treat Medicare beneficiaries with TRD.

Discovering more about how TMS affects the communication between brain regions

TMS is a new treatment that is starting to be used to treat depression and other psychiatric disorders. However, we do not have a good idea for how it changes the brain to make people feel better. This work is designed to help us understand how TMS changes how different parts of the brain talk to each other. When we finish the study, we may be able to use what we learn to develop new TMS treatments for other psychiatric disorders like anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

A multi-site study to determine the optimal dose for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Deciphering Mechanisms of ECT Outcomes and Adverse Effects (DECODE) is a multi-site prospective study designed to study the mechanism of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)-induced antidepressant benefits and cognitive adverse effects to determine optimal ECT dose. We will study 230 patients at or over 21 years old with MDD clinically referred for ECT at UCLA, UNM, and UTSW. All patients will complete clinical and cognitive measures and undergo sMRI and rs-fMRI. All MRI data will be processed and harmonized identically at a central imaging core (UPenn) to ensure uniformity. EEG data will be collected as well

Utilizing computational methods to analyze datasets from HCP and study the interplay of brain structure, function, and connectivity in disordered emotional states

We will leverage and integrate four datasets encompassing anxious misery (AM) disorders that were originally collected using the state-of-the-art experimental protocols of the Human Connectome Project (HCP). We will extract harmonized imaging derived phenotypes (IDPs) from resting state (rsfMRI) and task (tfMRI) functional, structural (sMRI) and diffusion (dMRI) imaging data. To address the complex interrelationships between brain structure, function and connectivity and features of illness underlying disordered emotional states differing in severity from adolescence through adulthood, we will use novel computational data-driven approaches including group regularized canonical correlation analysis (GRCCA) and Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection (UMAP) methods.

Using TMS and fMRI to investigate working memory brain states

The study is investigating working memory brain states by using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in combination with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The study uses a novel, individualized targeting approach for TMS based on each subject's individual multi-modal fMRI data. The individualized target will be stimulated in a TMS/ fMRI imaging session to investigate working memory states and optimal stimulation frequencies.

Generating personalized brain signatures of negative emotion along with personalized brain stimulation protocols to disrupt these patterns

We plan to use fMRI and muscle activity data to determine negative affect maps for each participant. We will then try a variety of patterned repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation sequences while recording fMRI which will be the basis of two sessions of 3-day individualized brain stimulation designed to reduce negative affect.

Gathering pilot MRI, TMS, and fMRI data to generate brain maps and isolate brain regions

The purpose of this project is to gather pilot data to practice our study methodologies before recruiting for future TMS/fMRI protocols. We plan to acquire 1 MRI and 1 TMS/fMRI scan from healthy volunteers. We will use these scans to generate brain maps for isolating specific brain regions of interest.

Determining whether aiTBS enhances emotion regulation in patients with BD using computer tasks and fMRI to assess behavioral and neural changes [PENDING]

In this mechanistic study, we will test whether stimulating IPL with a rapid and robust form of TMS, accelerated intermittent theta burst stimulation (aiTBS), will improve ER in patients with BD. We will use computer tasks that measure ER and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to examine changes in behavior and brain function following real versus sham aiTBS in individuals with BD.