News and Commentary Archive

Explore recent scientific discoveries and news as well as CLBB events, commentary, and press.

Mission

The speed of technology in neuroscience as it impacts ethical and just decisions in the legal system needs to be understood by lawyers, judges, public policy makers, and the general public. The Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Law, Brain, and Behavior is an academic and professional resource for the education, research, and understanding of neuroscience and the law. Read more

Genetic Influences on Schizophrenia and Subcortical Brain Volumes: Large-Scale Proof of Concept

By Barbara FrankeJason L. SteinStephan RipkeVerneri AnttilaDerrek P. HibarKimm J. E. van HulzenAlejandro Arias-VasquezJordan W. SmollerThomas E. NicholsMichael C. NealeAndrew M. McIntoshPhil LeeFrancis J. McMahonAndreas Meyer-LindenbergManuel MattheisenOle A. AndreassenOliver GruberPerminder S. SachdevRoberto Roiz-SantiañezAndrew J. SaykinStefan EhrlichKaren A. MatherJessica A. TurnerEmanuel SchwarzAnbupalam Thalamuthu, et al. | Nature Neuroscience | February 1, 2016

Abstract:

Schizophrenia is a devastating psychiatric illness with high heritability. Brain structure and function differ, on average, between people with schizophrenia and healthy individuals. As common genetic associations are emerging for both schizophrenia and brain imaging phenotypes, we can now use genome-wide data to investigate genetic overlap. Here we integrated results from common variant studies of schizophrenia (33,636 cases, 43,008 controls) and volumes of several (mainly subcortical) brain structures (11,840 subjects). We did not find evidence of genetic overlap between schizophrenia risk and subcortical volume measures either at the level of common variant genetic architecture or for single genetic markers. These results provide a proof of concept (albeit based on a limited set of structural brain measures) and define a roadmap for future studies investigating the genetic covariance between structural or functional brain phenotypes and risk for psychiatric disorders.

Read the full paper here.

Parcellating Cortical Functional Networks in Individuals

By Danhong WangRandy L BucknerMichael D FoxDaphne J HoltAvram J HolmesSophia StoeckleinGeorg LangsRuiqi PanTianyi QianKuncheng LiJustin T BakerSteven M StufflebeamKai Wang  Xiaomin WangBo Hong, and Hesheng Liu | Nature Neuroscience | November 9, 2015

Abstract:

The capacity to identify the unique functional architecture of an individual’s brain is a crucial step toward personalized medicine and understanding the neural basis of variation in human cognition and behavior. Here we developed a cortical parcellation approach to accurately map functional organization at the individual level using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). A population-based functional atlas and a map of inter-individual variability were employed to guide the iterative search for functional networks in individual subjects. Functional networks mapped by this approach were highly reproducible within subjects and effectively captured the variability across subjects, including individual differences in brain lateralization. The algorithm performed well across different subject populations and data types, including task fMRI data. The approach was then validated by invasive cortical stimulation mapping in surgical patients, suggesting potential for use in clinical applications.

Read the full journal article here. 

Nature Neuroscience Special Issue: Focus on pain

The February 2014 issue of Nature Neuroscience presented a special issue on the neurobiology of pain and itch. The seminal issue includes many important papers exploring this research topic. Click here to view the issue on Nature Neuroscience, or read below for the editors’ research review and highlights of the state of pain research:

“Pain can be defined simply as the subjective experience of harm in a part of one’s body. In reality, however, there are multiple forms of pain, which involve a variety of distinct biological processes. Exposure to extreme heat, cold or pressure can be noxious, triggering nociceptive pain. Inflammatory pain, involving the release of cytokines and the infiltration of immune cells, also occurs subsequent to injury, but can be triggered independently by bacterial infections. Although pain has an important physiological role in preserving the integrity of the body, pathological pain also exists. Nerve damage, in surgery patients for instance, sometimes leads to chronic pain conditions that can last years or even decades. Unfortunately, many pathological pain conditions remain poorly understood and resist currently available treatments. Developing new therapeutic approaches to managing pain will undoubtedly depend on a better understanding of the molecular, cellular and circuit mechanisms underlying acute and chronic pain states, which is the focus of this special Nature Neuroscience issue. In this focus, we present a series of reviews by experts in the field that critically appraise recent research on the neurobiology of pain and itch. Continue reading »