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Brain Connectivity in Neuropsychiatric Disorders

Woodward_Biol Psych CNNI 2017_Ctrl Psychosis thalamocortical figContemporary theories of many neuropsychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia and autism, posit that the disorders result from a breakdown in the large-scale brain networks underlying cognition, behavior, and emotion.  Key questions about these theories remain unclear. Is brain connectivity globally altered?  Are some networks affected more than others? What is the etiology of brain dysconnectivity? What is the relationship between abnormal brain connectivity and the symptoms/associated features of neuropsychiatric disorders? The Woodward Lab uses a variety of neuroimaging methods to address these questions, including resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), task-based fMRI, and diffusion weighted imaging (DWI).  Our work has led to several key discoveries in psychotic disorders: 1) networks underlying cognitive function appear to be particularly affected; 2) the thalamus is a key hub of dysconnectivity; and 3) brain dysconnectivity is present in unaffected siblings suggesting a genetic contribution to brain network dysfunction in psychosis. Recently, we extended this line of inquiry to autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Our results so far indicate that the thalamus is also a key hub of dysconnectivity in ASD.

Representative Publications:

Woodward ND, Giraldo-Chica M, Rogers B, Cascio CJ.  (2017) Thalamocortical dysconnectivity in autism spectrum disorder: An analysis of the Autism Brain Imaging Data Exchange.  Biol Psychiatry CNNI, 2:76-84.

Woodward ND, Heckers S.  (2016) Mapping thalamocortical functional connectivity in chronic and early stages of psychotic disorders.  Biol Psychiatry, 79(12):1016-25.[PubMed Link]

Woodward ND, Karbasforoushan H, Heckers S. (2012) Thalamocortical dysconnectivity in schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry, 169(10):1092-9.[PubMed Link]

Karbasforoushan H, Woodward ND. (2012) Resting-state networks in schizophrenia. Curr Top Med Chem., 12(21):2404-14.[PubMed Link]

Woodward ND, Rogers B, Heckers S. (2011) Functional resting-state networks are differentially affected in schizophrenia. Schiz. Res., 130(1-3):86-93. [PubMed Link]

Woodward ND, Waldie B, Rogers B, Seres P, Tibbo P, Purdon SE. (2009) Abnormal prefrontal cortical activity and connectivity during response selection in first episode psychosis, chronic schizophrenia, and unaffected siblings of individuals with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 109(1-3): 182-190.[PubMed Link]