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Brain Imaging Center

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. 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.

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
• James Ellison, M.D., Principal Investigator
Continued Efficacy and Safety Monitoring of Solanezumab, an Anti-Amyloid Beta Antibody in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease

Bipolar Disorder
• 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
Imaging Impulsivity and Marijuana Abuse in Bipolar Disorder

• 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
Staff: Rinah Yamamoto, Ph.D. (psychologist), Kyoko Ohashi, Ph.D. (scientist)

• Manaj Ujkaj, M.D., Principal Investigator
Electroconvulsive Therapy on Hippocampal Neuronal Plasticity: A pilot Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Study of the Hippocampus in Patients with Treatment-Resistant Depression

Drug and Alcohol Abuse
• Susan Andersen, Ph.D. Principal Investigator
Novel olfactory cues and fMRI response in preclinical models of early drug abuse

• Blaise Frederick, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
The use of Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) and Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to study cortical blood flow before and after tobacco smoking.
Staff: Yunjie Tong, Ph.D. (postdoctoral Fellow), Lia Hoche, (predoctoral student)

• Staci Gruber, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Marijuana and Mood: Frontal Predictors of Behavior examines the relationship between marijuana use and mood changes relative to fMRIand DTI measures in chronic marijuana smokers, bipolar patients and healthy controls
For a detailed summary of ongoing studies, please visit the CCNC web page

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

• Eric Jensen, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Using novel MRS sequences to study the effects of cocaine on brain GABA, glutamate and glutamine levels

• Marc Kaufman, Ph.D., Principal Investigator

• Steven B. Lowen, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
The effect of tobacco-related conditioned olfactory cues on brain function and subsequent subjective reactions

• Scott E. Lukas, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
The effects of citicoline on cognitive function in chronic marihuana users
The effects of the Chinese herb kudzu on brain alcohol levels
The effects of cranial electro stimulation (CES) on brain chemistry and connectivity
For a detailed summary of ongoing studies, please visit

• Yasmin Mashhoon, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Utilizing EEG, MRS, and DTI to study effects of early onset cigarette smoking on brain structure, function and chemistry in adult smokers.

• Lisa Nickerson, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
Application of new multi-modal imaging and multivariate data analysis methods to studies of drug abuse and psychiatric illness. Development of quantitative fMRI (perfusion and CMRO2) with multi-modal data fusion analysis methods to investigate the function of brain circuits during drug challenges and in drug-dependent and psychiatrically ill populations. 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. (postdoctoral fellow), Jennifer Sneider, Ph.D. (psychologist)

• Gordana Vitaliano, M.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
The use of phosphorus magnetization transfer techniques to study mitochondrial dysfunction in patients with schizophrenia

• George Trksak, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
The effects of sleep deprivation on drug cue reactivity

• Chun Zuo, Ph.D., Principal Investigator
The use of phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy to study metabolic profiles of diabetes in skeletal muscle

Biomedical Engineering Laboratory
Kenroy Cayetano, M.S. Senior Electrical Engineer
The Brain 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 BIC 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.