Game Changers

Three studies are featured below as Pitt Psychiatry “game changers” for their contributions to research on visualizing the human brain. 

Longitudinal Changes in Brain Activation during Anticipation of Monetary Loss in Bipolar Disorder

Investigators including Anna Manelis, PhD, and Mary Phillips, MD, have, for the first time, examined longitudinal changes in brain activation during win and loss anticipation to identify trait markers of aberrant anticipatory processing in bipolar disorder. They found that the healthy control group, but not participants with bipolar disorder, showed longitudinal reductions in the right lateral occipital cortex activation during the processing of cues predicting possible money loss. In participating individuals with bipolar disorder, this result was not affected by psychotropic medication, mood state or changes in depression/mania severity between the two scans. Elevated symptoms of subthreshold hypo/mania at baseline predicted more aberrant longitudinal patterns of right lateral occipital cortex activation explaining 12.5% of variance in individuals with bipolar disorder.
Manelis A, Stiffler R, Lockovich JC, Almeida JR, Aslam HA, Phillips ML
Psychological Medicine Vol. 49, Issue 6 (December 2019) DOI: 


Independent Support for Corticopallidal Contributions to Schizophrenia-related Functional Impairment

Researchers including Beatriz Luna, PhD, and Deepak Sarpal, MD, have shown that first-episode schizophrenia who develop greater vocational and social impairments show lower baseline functional connectivity between the globus pallidus and regions of the intrinsic salience network. In the current study, they extend these findings to investigate the integrity of this system in individuals with chronic illness and found that low-functioning (based on scores across measures of psychopathology and cognitive functioning) individuals with schizophrenia demonstrated less connectivity between bilateral globus pallidus externa and nodes within the salience network, relative to healthy controls. The team observed no connectivity differences between low- and high-functioning individuals with schizophrenia. Exploratory voxel-wise analyses highlighted additional large-scale corticopallidal abnormalities in lower-functioning participants with schizophrenia.
Tarcijonas G, Foran W, Blazer A, Eack SM, Luna B, Sarpal DK
Schizophrenia Research December 2019 


Regionally Distinct Alterations in Membrane Phospholipid Metabolism in Schizophrenia: A Meta-analysis of Phosphorus Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Studies

Konasale Prasad, MD, MBBS (MD), is senior author on a meta-analysis of 24 peer-reviewed studies of phosphorous magnetic resonance spectroscopy, a non-invasive imaging approach that can assess the molecular biochemistry of cortex by measuring phosphomonoester and phosphodiester levels. These measurements can provide evidence of altered biochemical processes involved in neuropil membrane expansion and contraction in schizophrenia. The analysis indicated that subjects with schizophrenia showed lower phosphomonoester levels in the frontal regions and elevated phosphodiester levels in the temporal regions with significant heterogeneity. They additionally noted significant publication bias and file drawer effect for frontal phosphomonoester and phosphodiester and temporal phosphodiester levels, but not for temporal phosphomonoester levels. Fail-safe analysis estimated that a high number of negative studies were required to provide nonsignificant results.
Haszto CS, Stanley JA, Iyengar S, Prasad KM
Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging 2019