School of Medicine
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Daniel Arthur Abrams
Clinical Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsAutism spectrum disorders (ASD) are among the most pervasive neurodevelopmental disorders and are characterized by significant deficits in social communication. A common observation in children with ASD is that affected individuals often “tune out” from social interactions, which likely impacts the development of social, communication, and language skills. My primary research goals are to understand why children with ASD often tune out from the social world and how this impacts social skill and brain development, and to identify remediation strategies that motivate children with ASD to engage in social interactions. The theoretical framework that guides my work is that social impairments in ASD stem from a primary deficit in identifying social stimuli, such as human voices and faces, as rewarding and salient stimuli, thereby precluding children with ASD from engaging with these stimuli.
My program of research has provided important information regarding the brain circuits underlying social deficits in ASD. Importantly, these findings have consistently implicated key structures of the brain’s reward and salience processing systems, and support the hypothesis that impaired reward attribution to social stimuli is a critical aspect of social difficulties in ASD. The first study produced by this program of research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and showed that children with ASD have weak brain connectivity between voice processing regions of cortex and the distributed reward circuit and amygdala. Moreover, the strength of these speech-reward brain connections predicted social communication abilities in these children. A second study, which was recently published in eLife, examined neural processing of mother’s voice, a biologically salient and implicitly rewarding sound which is associated with cognitive and social development, in children with ASD. Results from this study identified a relationship between social communication abilities in children with ASD and brain activation in reward and salience processing regions during mother’s voice processing. A third study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that mother’s voice activates an extended voice processing network, including reward and salience processing regions, in typically developing children. Moreover, the strength of brain connectivity between voice-selective and reward and salience processing regions predicted social communication abilities in these neurotypical children. Together, results provide novel support for the hypothesis that deficits in representing the reward value of social stimuli, including the human voice, impede children with ASD from actively engaging with these stimuli and consequently impair social skill development.
My future research will leverage these findings by examining several important questions related to social information processing in children with ASD. First, we aim to study longitudinal development of social brain circuitry in minimally verbal children with ASD, a severely affected subpopulation that has been vastly underrepresented in the ASD literature. Second, we aim to examine the efficacy of naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions, such as Pivotal Response Treatment, for children with ASD and their relation to changes in social brain and reward circuitry. Third, we aim to examine distinct neural profiles in female children with ASD who, on average, have better social communication abilities compared to their male counterparts.
Instructor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsMy research lies in the intersection of Machine Learning, Computer Vision and Medical Imaging.
Instructor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
BioI am a neuroscientist focused on auditory-vocal function in human social communication. My expertise covers psychological, neurobiological, and acoustic perspectives on speech and music, their conveyance of affect, social-significance, and origins in mammalian vocal behavior. I combine psychophysiological, psychoacoustic, neuroendocrine and pharmacological methods to study perception and behavior in human subjects. I graduated from the University of California San Diego in 2006 with summa cum laude honors in Biological Psychology (BS) and Neurophilosophy (BA). I hold a graduate certificate in Cognitive Neuroscience from Duke University (2009), and a PhD in Neurobiology from Duke University School of Medicine (2012). My postdoc at the University of Vienna (2012-18) focused on bioacoustics and auditory-motor synchrony. My work has been recognized with awards including a young investigator award from the University of Vienna and an innovation award from the Social and Affective Neuroscience society. At Stanford, I am working to develop an objective assessment of auditory-vocal affect perception for clinical research on autism in collaboration with scientists, engineers, and artists from departments of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Music. My work is funded by NIMH and the Wu Tsai Neuroscience Institute. Along the way, I have been fortunate to receive mentorship from Drs. Patricia Churchland, Dale Purves, Tecumseh Fitch, and Karen Parker.
John A. Turner Endowed Professor for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsExamines the interplay between brain development and stress vulnerability via a multi-method approach that includes psychophysiology, neuroimaging, neuroendocrinology and phenomenology. Treatment development that focuses on individual and community-based interventions for stress related conditions in children and adolescents that experience traumatic stress.
Luis de Lecea
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Major Laboratories and Clinical and Translational Neurosciences Incubator)
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsMy lab uses molecular, optogenetic, anatomical and behavioral methods to identify and manipulate the neuronal circuits underlying brain arousal, with particular attention to sleep and wakefulness transitions. We are also interested in the changes that occur in neuronal circuits in conditions of hyperarousal such as stress and drug addiction.
D. H. Chen Professor, Professor of Bioengineering and of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsResearch in Dr. Deisseroth's laboratory focuses on developing optical, molecular and cellular tools to observe, perturb, and re-engineer brain circuits. His laboratory is based in the James H. Clark Center at Stanford and has developed optogenetic and tissue engineering methods, employing techniques spanning electrophysiology, molecular biology, optics, neural activity imaging, animal behavior, and computational neural network modeling.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Major Laboratories and Clinical Translational Neurosciences Incubator)
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWe study genetic and environmental effects on mental health. Much of our work is computational and it relies upon genetic data, collected from millions of individuals, from around the world. We use genetic approaches because the overall goal of the lab is to discover fundamental information about psychiatric disorders, and ultimately to build more rational approaches to classification, prevention, and treatment.
Clinical Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
BioDr. Flint Espil researches the etiology and treatment of tic disorders (including Tourette’s), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and body-focused repetitive behaviors. He is interested in how psychosocial factors, the environment, and underlying brain circuitry influence treatment outcomes among individuals seeking treatment. Dr. Espil is currently collaborating with the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research and the Brain Stimulation Lab to explore novel imaging techniques (e.g., functional near-infrared spectroscopy) and neuromodulation approaches (e.g., transcranial magnetic stimulation, deep brain stimulation) to improve our understanding of these disorders. He is also exploring ways to adapt and implement evidence-based mental health approaches in community settings. He is currently collaborating with community-based organizations in East Palo Alto to improve access to care for youth in school settings.
Amit Etkin, MD, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Major Laboratories and Clinical Translational Neurosciences Incubator)On Leave from 11/01/2020 To 10/31/2021
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsThe overarching aim of the Etkin lab is to understand the neural basis of emotional disorders and their treatment, and to leverage this knowledge to develop novel treatment interventions. Our work is organized around the study of the neuroscience of emotion and cognitive regulation, as well as neural circuit function, in healthy subjects and individuals with a range of psychiatric disorders.
Douglas F. Levinson, M.D.
Walter E. Nichols, M.D. Professor in the School of Medicine, Emeritus
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsDr. Levinson directs the Program on the Genetics of Brain Function in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. The program investigates the genetic basis of psychiatric disorders (schizophrenia and major depressive disorder), using genetic association, linkage and resequencing methodologies. In collaboration with Dr. Alice Whittemore, we are also actively engaged in statistical methods testing and development for genetic research.
Nancy Friend Pritzker Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsLong-lasting changes in synaptic strength are important for the modification of neural circuits by experience. A major goal of my laboratory is to elucidate the molecular events that trigger various forms of synaptic plasticity and the modifications in synaptic proteins that are responsible for the changes in synaptic efficacy.
Clinical Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
BioRyan Matlow, Ph.D., is a child clinical psychologist who serves as Director of Community Programs for Stanford’s Early Life Stress and Resilience Program, and is a faculty member in Stanford's Human Rights and Trauma Mental Health Program. His clinical and research efforts focus on understanding and addressing the impact of stress, adversity, and trauma in children, families, and communities. In particular, Dr. Matlow seeks to apply current scientific knowledge of the neurobiological and developmental impact of stress, trauma, and adversity in shaping interventions and systems of care. Dr. Matlow is focused on engaging diverse populations and providing evidence-based individual, family, and systems interventions for posttraumatic stress following interpersonal trauma, with an emphasis on efforts in school, community, and integrated care settings. He is engaged in clinical service, program development, and interdisciplinary collaboration efforts that address childhood trauma exposure in communities that have been historically marginalized, under-resourced, and/or experienced human rights violations. He has worked extensively in providing trauma-focused psychological evaluation, treatment, and advocacy services with immigrant youth and families, with a focus on immigrants from Latin American countries. Dr. Matlow is involved in the training and dissemination of Stanford's Cue Centered Therapy (Carrion, 2015), a flexible, manualized intervention addressing childhood experiences of chronic trauma.
Rachael L. and Walter F. Nichols, MD, Professor and Professor, by courtesy, of Neurology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsEXPERIMENTAL, CLINICAL AND THEORETICAL SYSTEMS NEUROSCIENCE
Cognitive neuroscience; Systems neuroscience; Cognitive development; Psychiatric neuroscience; Functional brain imaging; Dynamical basis of brain function; Nonlinear dynamics of neural systems.
Associate Professor (Research) of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Major Laboratories and Clinical Translational Neurosciences Incubator)
BioExpertise: Neurobiology, Molecular Genetics, Developmental Biology, Gene Silencing
Methodology: Synapse Imaging (Two photon microscopy, Array Tomography), Calcium Imaging (Light Sheet Microscopy/SPIM, Light Field Microscopy), Optogenetics, CLARITY, Tol2 transgenesis, TALENs/CRISPRs, Video tracking and behavior computation.
Karen J. Parker, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Major Laboratories and Clinical Translational Neurosciences Incubator)
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsThe Parker Lab conducts research on the biology of social functioning in monkeys, typically developing humans, and patients with social impairments.
Kilian M Pohl
Associate Professor (Research) of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Public Mental Health and Population Sciences)
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsThe foundation of the laboratory of Associate Professor Kilian M. Pohl, PhD, is computational science aimed at identifying biomedical phenotypes improving the mechanistic understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders. The biomedical phenotypes are discovered by unbiased, machine learning-based searches across biological, neuroimaging, and neuropsychological data. This data-driven discovery currently supports the adolescent brain research of the NIH-funded National Consortium on Alcohol and NeuroDevelopment in Adolescence (NCANDA) and the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD), the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the US. The laboratory also investigates brain patterns specific to alcohol use disorder and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) across the adult age range, and have advanced the understanding of a variety of brain diseases including schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, glioma, and aging.
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Major Laboratories and Clinical Translational Neurosciences Incubator) and of Neurobiology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsWe study how our brains generate social interactions that differ between the sexes. Such gender differences in behavior are regulated by sex hormones, experience, and social cues. Accordingly, we are characterizing how these internal and external factors control gene expression and neuronal physiology in the two sexes to generate behavior. We are also interested in understanding how such sex differences in the healthy brain translate to sex differences in many neuro-psychiatric illnesses.
Jack, Samuel and Lulu Willson Professor in MedicineOn Partial Leave from 01/01/2020 To 12/10/2021
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsDr. Spiegel's research program involves mind/body interactions, including cancer progression, the response to traumatic stress, and the effect of hypnosis on the perception of pain and anxiety.
Edith Vioni Sullivan
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Major Laboratories and Clinical Translational Neurosciences Incubator)
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsApplication of neuroimaging modalities and component process analysis of cognitive, sensory, and motor functions to identify brain structural and functional mechanisms disrupted in diseases affecting the brain: alcoholism, HIV infection, dementia, and normal aging from adolescence to senescence.
Hui Qi Tong
Clinical Associate Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
BioStaff Psychologist: Women's Mental Health Program, San Francisco VA Health Care System (2009-2016)
Academic visitor: Oxford Mindfulness Center, Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University (2016)
Psychology Post-doctoral Fellowship: UCSF，San Francisco VA Health Care System (2009)
Psychology Pre-doctoral Internship: UCSF, San Francisco VA Health Care System (2008)
Psychology Education: Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto University (2008)
Clinical Research Associate: Department of Psychiatry, Tufts University School of Medicine (2000-2001)
Research Fellow: Genetics Division, Department of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital,Harvard Medical School (1999-2000)
Medical Education: Fudan University, Shanghai Medical College, Shanghai, China (1994)
Alexander Eckehart Urban
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Major Laboratories and Clinical Translational Neurosciences Incubator) and of Genetics
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsComplex behavioral and neuropsychiatric phenotypes often have a strong genetic component. This genetic component is often extremely complex and difficult to dissect. The current revolution in genome technology means that we can avail ourselves to tools that make it possible for the first time to begin understanding the complex genetic and epigenetic interactions at the basis of the human mind.
Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Major Laboratories and Clinical Translational Neurosciences Incubator) and, by courtesy, of Psychology
Current Research and Scholarly InterestsA revolution is under way in psychiatry. We can now understand mental illness as an expression of underlying brain circuit disruptions, shaped by experience and genetics. Our lab is defining precision brain circuit types for depression, anxiety and attention deficit. We apply computational models to large amounts of brain imaging, behavior and other data. These precision brain types inform our translational intervention studies. To close the loop, field ready insights are applied in practice.
Natalie M. Zahr
Assistant Professor (Research) of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Major Laboratories)
BioNatalie M. Zahr received a graduate education in the basic sciences including the study of neuro- pharmacology, physiology, and anatomy. After completing her graduate training in electrophysiology, she began a postdoctoral fellowship as a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scientist. Her work focuses on translational approaches using in vivo MR imaging and spectroscopy in studies of human alcoholics and rodent models of alcoholism with the goal of identifying fundamental mechanisms of alcohol effects on the brain. Her human studies include participants with HIV, those comorbid for HIV and alcoholism and recently, aging individuals with mild cognitive impairment. Her position allows her to explore emerging MR technologies and apply them to test relevant hypotheses. Before joining Stanford, she taught at several local institutions including UC Berkeley extension and Santa Clara University enjoying sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for learning with her students.