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fMRI brown bag: October 12, 2022

Christian Ionas

Christian ionas

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dartmouth College

Ionas website

Center for Open Neuroscience


Psychopharmacological imaging via functional neurophenotype

Abstract: Psychopharmacology remains the most reliable class of interventions for the purpose of manipulating affect. Yet, in spite of the rising prevalence of affective disorders, psychopharmacological development remains slow, and the efficacy of clinically feasible interventions remains low. One contributing factor to this is the reliance of drug development on output metrics which are either systemically shallow (e.g. protein binding) or highly susceptible to translational and environmental pitfalls (e.g. behaviour).

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) provides whole-brain standard-space representations of neuronal function. However, due to limitations of invasive interventions in human subjects, resolving signal transduction through key neuronal systems remains tenuous. In animal models, the combination of fMRI with optogenetic stimulation of drug target systems permits the establishment of “baseline” (i.e. drug-naïve) maps for stimulus-evoked neuronal activity. These functional neurophenotypes of signal transmission show high susceptibility to longitudinal psychopharmacological treatment and present a novel read-out metric for gauging efficiency and localizing neuropyhsiological targets. Further, the spatially standardized and translationally comparable whole-brain-space of data, permits significant reuse in the form of a reference library, analogous to structural connectivity data libraries.