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McLean Imaging Center

The McLean Imaging Center (first launched as the Brain Imaging Center) was created in 1988 with the purchase of a GE 1.5T magnet that was sited in the Admissions Building. McLean Hospital received funding from the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the NIH Shared Instrumentation Grant program to purchase a Varian 4T scanner in 2001. The new magnet and the Brain Imaging Center were moved to the old Recreation Building, and with the addition of the Behavioral Psychopharmacology Research Laboratory (BPRL) and the Sleep Research Program (SRP), the building and program were renamed the NeuroImaging Center. In 2003 the hospital leased a Siemens 3T Trio scanner. In 2009, when the lease ended, a new lease was taken to upgrade to a TIM Trio multipurpose clinical/research scanner. In 2006, through another grant from ONDCP and a Shared Instrumentation Grant from NIH, a Varian 9.4T small bore animal magnet was purchased. It began operation in 2007. The Center was renamed the McLean Imaging Center in 2011. In 2016, the GE 1.5T magnet was replaced with a 64-channel head-coil Siemens 3T Prisma scanner, equipped for multi-band imaging and other advanced functional, structural, and spectroscopic research capabilities.

Research Programs
Scientists are actively engaged in a number of research projects aimed at understanding the causes, risk factors, treatments for psychiatric illness, neurodegenerative disorders, developmental disorders, and drug and alcohol abuse. Specific projects are listed by disease/disorder.

Aging & Dementia Disorders
� Brent Forester, M.D., Principal Investigator
Continued Efficacy and Safety Monitoring of Solanezumab, an Anti-Amyloid Beta Antibody in Patients with Alzheimers Disease

Bipolar Disorder
� Justin Baker, MD, PhD, Principal Investigator
Circuit dynamics underlying longitudinal fluctuations in mood and cognition in bipolar patients.

� Atilla Gonenc, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Using novel DTI tractography and diffusion kurtosis imaging for quantifying fMRI responses in patients with bipolar disorder

� Staci Gruber, Ph.D. Principal Investigator
Using novel technologies and treatments to uncover the neurophysiology of bipolar disorder

� Justin Baker, M.D., Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Neurogenetic analysis in unipolar and bipolar depression

� David P. Olson, M.D./Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy and Metabolite Relaxometry in Major Depressive Disorder

� Diego Pizzagalli, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Neuroimaging Studies of Reward Processing in Depression
Biomarkers of Treatment Response in Depression
For a detailed summary of ongoing studies, please visit the�Center for Depression, Anxiety and Stress Research web page

� Michael Rohan, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
The use of Low Field Magnetic Stimulation (LFMS) on depressive mood

Drug and Alcohol Use Disorders
� M. Kathryn Dahlgren, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Examining the impact of cannabis use on driving simulator performance

� Staci Gruber, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Longitudinal, observational study of medical cannabis treatment
Longitudinal study of veterans who choose to use cannabinoids to treat a variety of conditions or symptoms
Longitudinal, observational study of cannabinoids for chronic pain in older adults
Online survey of the impact of COVID-19 on medical cannabis use
Clinical trials of high cannabidiol (CBD) products for anxiety
Clinical trial of a high CBD product for agitation and anxiety in Alzheimers-related dementia (collaboration with Dr. Brent Forester)
Assessing the impact of Foria Basics on menstrual symptoms
National, online survey of cannabinoids for menopause-related symptoms

For a detailed summary of ongoing studies, please visit the�lab�web page

� Amy Janes, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Using fMRI and neuropsychological task performance to identify risk factors for tobacco smoking

For a detailed summary of ongoing studies, please visit the�lab web page

� Marc Kaufman, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Current human studies focus on effects of long-term anabolic-androgenic steroid use on brain structure and function. Current animal studies focus on brain effects of HIV-Tat protein in mice as well as on development of novel treatments for addiction and neurodegenerative disorders.

� Stephen Kohut, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
The Behavioral Neuroimaging Laboratory is dedicated to identifying the functional brain circuits that underly behavioral responses to pharmacological stimuli such as drugs of abuse and candidate medications.

  • Studies are conducted on 3T and 9.4T MR platforms using animal models of psychiatric disorders.
  • Current research projects utilize a combination of neuroimaging, behavior, and pharmacology to:
    • Understand the neural correlates related to drug dependence and how candidate medications alter the neural circuits involved in drug-taking and relapse-related behavior.
    • Develop and evaluate novel subtype selective serotonergic drugs as candidate medications for opioid use disorder
    • Evaluate the relative contribution of dopamine and serotonin in the behavioral and neural effects of stimulant and entactogenic drugs of abuse.
    • Conduct longitudinal analyses of the effects of adolescent THC exposure on various brain and cognitive endpoints

� Scott E. Lukas, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
The effects of the Chinese herb kudzu on brain alcohol levels

Pharmacokinetic analyses of breath versus tissue versus blood alcohol concentrations

Development of novel passive alcohol breathalyzer devices for use in automobiles

Development of novel breathalyzer to detect THC, CBD and metabolites
For a detailed summary of ongoing studies, please visit�

� Lisa Nickerson, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Development and application of data-driven machine learning statistical methods for multi-modal data fusion and analysis of structural and functional MRI, perfusion MRI, and PET data to investigate the structural and functional brain connectome in individuals with drug use and psychiatric disorders. Consultant/collaborator for neuroimaging study design and data analysis. For more details, please visit�

� Marisa Silveri, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
The use of MRS to study the neurobiological basis of alcohol abuse in adolescents.
Staff: Julia Cohen, Ph.D., Jennifer Sneider, Ph.D.

� Gordana Vitaliano, M.D., Ph.D., Principal Investigator
New MRI nanoprobes for molecular imaging of dopamine D3 receptors in addiction

Geriatric Mood Disorders
� Brent Forester, M.D., Principal Investigator
Cerebral Energy Metabolism in Geriatric Bipolar Depression
Longitudinal Geriatric Mood Disorders Database Project

� Fei Du, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Multimodal neuroimaging approaches including proton and phosphorus MRS applied to outline the trajectories of alterations of brain metabolism, structure and cognition function in the early phases of psychotic disorders and to identify biomarkers sensitive to the prodrome and transition to psychosis.

� Justin Baker, MD, PhD, Principal Investigator
Feasibility and Clinical Utility of MultiSense for Nonverbal Feature Extraction in Psychosis

Neurovascular physiology

� Blaise Frederick, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Multimodal methods development for the characterization of cerebrovascular circulatory function and pathology in normal aging, stroke, and Alzheimers disease.

Peripheral circulatory measurement with near infrared.

Development of software techniques for measuring and removing hemodynamic effects in fMRI data.

For more information on the laboratory, please go to

Biomedical Engineering Laboratory
� Kenroy Cayetano, M.S. Senior Electrical Engineer
The McLean Imaging Center has a fully equipped engineering laboratory consisting of an electronics laboratory and mechanical shop for the design, construction, and repair of digital and analog (including radio frequency) hardware, including coils, filters, amplifiers, circuit boards, and other components. The electronics laboratory equipment includes a Hewlett Packard 8712C 300kHz-1300MHz RF Network Analyzer (Hewlett Packard, Palo Alto, CA), an Agilent 4294 Precision Impedance Analyzer (Agilent, Palo Alto, CA), Signal Recovery 7265 DSP Lock-in Amplifier and 7310 Noise Rejecting Voltmeter (Signal Recovery, Oakridge, TN), Keithley Instruments 2182A Nanovoltmeter and 6221 AC/DC Current Source (Keithley Instruments, Cleveland, OH) along with basic laboratory equipment such as an oscilloscope, DC power supply and signal generator for testing the time and frequency domain properties of RF components. The electronics laboratory also contains a workstation with a Windows based CAD system for schematic capture and circuit board design. Simple boards can be fabricated on site; more complex circuit boards are sent out for off-site fabrication. The shop contains a Jet JDP-17MF 17" Drill Press and Wilton 8201 14-inch Vertical Band Saw (WMH Tool Group, Elgin, IL), along with an array of hand tools. The electronics shop occupies a 450 square foot dedicated space in the Brain Imaging Center.

The MIC has both commercial (XFDTD, including high resolution head and body meshes, Remcom, Inc., State College, PA) and in-house software for magnetic coil design, used for the design of gradient and RF coils.

Low Frequency Magnetic Stimulation (LFMS) Program
� Michael Rohan, Ph.D., Director
Two prototype Low Frequency Magnetic Stimulation (LFMS) systems have been constructed at the Brain Imaging Center for use in the study of magnetic stimulation in affective disorders. LFMS effects in humans were first observed at the BIC, and the study of this phenomenon is being pursued by the BIC in human studies as well as in collaboration with behavioral, neurobiological and biochemical laboratories at McLean Hospital.

Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) Program
� Blaise Frederick, Ph.D., Director
Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is an emerging technology that confers many potential benefits over fMRI. For example, NIRS measures cerebral blood oxygenation using optical rather than magnetic spectroscopy, and therefore can be used with patients having tattoos, metallic implants, prostheses, bone fracture supports, dental fillings or un-detachable orthodontics. It is non-constraining and quiet, so it can be used with patients who are fearful of enclosed spaces or loud noises. It is portable and relatively cheap, so it can be used in the office, at a computer, at the bedside, or in other real life settings. It is not particularly susceptible to motion artifacts, so it can be used with patients who have difficulty remaining still, such as persons with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or involuntary movement disorders. Therefore, while NIRS is unlikely to replace other functional methods, it may be a preferable alternative under certain circumstances. When used in conjunction with BOLD fMRI, it can provide a new window into blood circulation, and also can be used to significantly reduce the amount of physiological noise in fMRI data.