Entry Date:
May 1, 2006

Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience

Principal Investigator John Gabrieli

The Gabrieli Lab seeks to understand the organization of memory, thought, and emotion in the human brain. We want to discover how the healthy brain supports human capacities, such as hippocampal support for declarative memory, amygdala support for emotional memory, and prefrontal cortical support for working memory. We also study how experience alters functional brain organization (brain plasticity). We aim to understand principles of brain organization that are consistent across individuals, and those that vary across people due to age, personality, and other dimensions of individuality. Therefore, we examine brain-behavior relations across the life span, from children through the elderly. Also of interest is in learning how disadvantageous variations in brain structure and function underlie diseases and disorders, and have studied developmental disorders (dyslexia, ADHD, autism), age-related disorders (Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease), and psychiatric disorders (depression, social phobia, schizophrenia). Further, the lab wants to understand how potential behavioral or pharmacologic treatments alter brain function when they are therapeutically effective.

The primary methods are brain imaging (functional and structural), and the experimental behavioral study of patients with brain injuries. The majority of our studies involve functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), but we also employ other brain measures as needed to address scientific questions, including diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), MRI structural volumes, and voxel-based morphometry (VBM).

Much of the research occurs in the Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute, MIT, which is affiliated with the Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. The Martinos Centers are a collaboration among the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), the McGovern Institute for Brain Research, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. Our affiliations with these outstanding research institutions promote the opportunity for cutting-edge basic cognitive neuroscience research and translation from basic science to clinical application.