3731A Institute For Human Performance
505 Irving Ave.
Syracuse, NY 13210
Research Programs and Affiliations
- Biomedical Sciences Program
- Center for Psychiatric Neuroimaging
- Medical Genetics Research Center
- Neuroscience Program
- Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
- Research Pillars
Education & Fellowships
- BS: University of Chicago
- PhD: University of Chicago
My lab studies brain development and brain function in individuals with genetic disorders. The main focus of our work is on a genetic disorder called 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome (22q11DS). Individuals with 22q11DS are at a 25-fold greater risk for developing schizophrenia than individuals in the general population. We examine the effects of genetic mutation, brain development, and neuropsychological function in youth with this disorder, in order to identify the factors that place youth at highest risk for developing schizophrenia. Eventually, our research may allow us to identify and provide early interventions to youth at high risk for schizophrenia, potentially easing the huge toll that schizophrenia takes on families. Another focus of our work is to determine the effectiveness of computer-based, on-line, cognitive interventions in youth with genetically based intellectual disorders. Our hope is that by demonstrating the effectiveness of on-line, cognitive interventions, we can reach and benefit many youth who may not have access to centers that are providing such interventions in person.
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Our laboratory studies the brain and behavioral development of children with velocardiofacial syndrome (VCFS). VCFS is caused by a microdeletion in the long arm of chromosome 22 (22q.11) and is associated with craniofacial anomalies, cardiac defects, learning disabilities, and psychiatric disorders. Up to 30% of adults with VCFS develop schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Study participants are administered a battery of neuropsychological and psychiatric testing, smooth pursuit eye tracking tasks, as well as a brain MRI scan. Subjects are evaluated at Time 1 and again three years later, at Time 2. Our aim is to determine 1) the phenomenology and natural history of child psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents with VCFS, and 2) whether abnormalities in brain morphology and putative biomarkers of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (which include eye tracking performance, sustained attention, and working memory), are present and co-occur in children and adolescents with VCFS. Ultimately, we hope to determine whether subjects who display brain abnormalities and putative biomarkers for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder deteriorate in adaptive/psychosocial function or mood regulation between Time 1 and Time 2.