Wayne State University

Wayne State researcher presented innovative findings for neuropsychiatric illnesses using fMRS at Society of Biological Psychiatry meeting

DETROIT – Jeffrey A. Stanley, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences in Wayne State University’s School of Medicine, chaired and presented at a symposium during the 71st Annual Meeting of the Society of Biological Psychiatry in Atlanta.

The symposium, “Modulation of Glutamate in Task Active States in Humans: Applications to Psychiatry with Real-time Functional Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy (fMRS),” highlighted Stanley’s innovative development of fMRS, a highly novel approach for characterizing real-time dynamics of the neurotransmitter glutamate. fMRS is a complement of the more widely used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), but relies on more direct measures of the brain’s neuronal function.

Glutamate is the brain’s major excitatory neurotransmitter, implicated in multiple domains of behavior, including learning and memory. Glutamate dysfunction is associated with neuropsychiatric illnesses, including schizophrenia. Typical imaging attempts to quantitate glutamate in the brain do so in the rest state, but these basal levels do not capture how glutamate changes take place in response to dynamic task demand. Understanding the biochemical dynamics of glutamate modulation in real time related to task-active states can further the mechanistic understanding of these disorders and how they might be related to disordered plasticity in the brain.

Stanley and Vaibhav Diwadkar, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences in Wayne State’s School of Medicine, are undertaking foundational neuroimaging studies using both fMRI and fMRS to elucidate regional and brain network function and dysfunction in healthy participants and schizophrenia patients.

Several of these themes were echoed in Stanley’s presentation and by other symposium speakers. The symposium focused attention on mechanistic pathways that link glutamate modulation to neuronal activity, as well as evidence of altered modulation of glutamate in different psychiatric disorders in response to task-specific activation.

Characterizing neurochemical dynamics is a core focus of work in the Brain Imaging Research Division in Wayne State’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences. At the same meeting, Eric Woodcock — a pre-doctoral candidate in the Translational Neuroscience Program (and recent NRSA awardee) who is being mentored by Mark Greenwald and professors Diwadkar and Stanley — presented the first evidence of dynamic increases in glutamate in the prefrontal cortex during working memory.  

These initiatives highlight the complex capabilities of research in the Brain Imaging Research Division and their applications to the study of brain systems in health and disease.

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About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is one of the nation’s pre-eminent public research universities in an urban setting. Through its multidisciplinary approach to research and education, and its ongoing collaboration with government, industry and other institutions, the university seeks to enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in the city of Detroit, state of Michigan and throughout the world. For more information about research at Wayne State University, visit research.wayne.edu.