Principal Investigators //


Jessica Turner, PhD

Associate Professor of Translational Neuroscience

Jessica Turner

​Dr. Turner’s research falls under “what can we know from cognitive neuroimaging and genetic data,” and “how can we represent what we know from these experiments?” 

The first research program includes the extraction and understanding of multivariate patterns within the combined methods of neuroimaging and genetics, as applied to clinical populations. In particular she is investigating the genetics underlying brain structure changes in chronic schizophrenia, as well as the genetic influences on functional and structural neuroimaging measures in other diseases. 

The second research program includes the development of formal representations of cognitive experiments, the experimental variables involved, and the results of the data for automated data sharing and meta-analysis within neurobiology. Dr. Turner’s background is in psychophysics and MRI methodology as applied to a range of clinical populations, with secondary experience in the analysis of genome wide scan (GWS) data, and ontological development.

Email Dr. Turner

Brain Connectivity Changes in Individual Subjects with Neuropsychological Disease

Methods to provide better characterization of functional and structural brain network connectivity in patients with schizophrenia and addiction are being developed.(Calhoun et al., 2009; Greicius et al., 2007; Lynall et al., 2010; van den Heuvel et al., 2010)  The goal is to provide accurate markers of disease progression in individual subjects with neuropsychological diseases associated with brain connectivity alterations.

Resting State Brain Networks in Neuropsychiatric Disorders

The amplitude of low frequency fluctuations (ALFF) in fMRI measured while subjects are resting has been shown to be quite reliable in healthy subjects, and to correlate with antipsychotic treatment response in antipsychotic–naïve schizophrenia patients.  We are exploring the use of various resting state measures within neuropsychiatric patients undergoing treatment changes to determine any correlations with clinical improvements.

Cognitive Paradigm Ontology

Cognitive Paradigm Ontology (CogPO), a domain ontology of cognitive paradigms, facilitates descriptions of cognitive experimental paradigms in ways that are machine-readable and machine-interpretable, to allow communication and automated data sharing across diverse databases and data sources. The design of CogPO concentrates on what can be observed directly: categorization of each paradigm in terms of (1) the stimulus presented to the subjects, (2) the requested instructions, and (3) the returned response. All paradigms are essentially comprised of these three orthogonal components, and formalizing an ontology around them is a clear and direct approach to describing paradigms. This structured, well-defined, common and controlled vocabulary will be capable of representing the cognitive paradigms across a variety of data repositories. This ontology will be made available for adoption not only by other fMRI databases, but also for archives of other neuroimaging modalities (e.g., EEG or MEG data), such as the Neural ElectroMagnetic Ontologies (NEMO), and literature neuroinformatics efforts such as the Society for Neuroscience's PubMed Plus.

Mining the Genomewide Scan

Genetic profiles of structural loss in schizophrenia:  The development of both neuroimaging and genome-wide scanning technologies has created a proliferation of data about neuropsychiatric disorders. It is possible to collect more information in a study about each subject than there are subjects available to study, creating a challenge for standard statistical techniques. We develop an approach already used separately in imaging and genetics, but apply it here to the combination of imaging genetic data on a massive dataset, to determine genetic effects on brain structure in psychiatric disorders. Schizophrenia is a highly heritable neuropsychiatric disorder with significant public health costs. Understanding the contributions of genetic variability in the disease will help identify better predictors of prognosis and treatment response. Current studies are using genome wide scan (GWS) approaches to identify the numerous genes which might play a role in schizophrenia-either in increased risk for the disorder overall, or through modulating the various clinical symptoms. Structural neuroimaging measures implicate gray matter loss in schizophrenia; subjects with schizophrenia tend to have larger ventricles and smaller grey matter volumes than do their healthy counterparts, and regional loss in the medial frontal, temporal and insular gyri have been identified by us and others. Identifying the genetic influences underlying these patterns of gray matter loss is the goal of this project.