This group's primary research focus is to understand how genetic risk for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are expressed in the functions of the brain. The researchers use recordings of brain electrical activity (EEG), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) measures of brain function and structure, cognitive assessments, and questionnaire- and interview-based assessments of symptoms to map the expression of genetic vulnerability. They carry out studies of families affected by schizophrenia and bipolar disorder to understand the ways in which individuals affected by these disorders differ from biological relatives who may carry genetic vulnerability for the conditions but do not develop them. The discovery of measures that clearly identify either genetic vulnerability or future development of a severe mental disorder will allow early intervention and possible prevention of these conditions before they impair a person's life.
This research also involves studies of military-related traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder in a search for brain-based measures that differentiate the two conditions and may help guide treatment decisions for individuals who have been exposed to traumatic explosive blast events in combat.