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COBRE Phase 2 Project 4: Robert Thoma //

Transcranial direct current stimulation for treatment of auditory verbal hallucinations

Principal Investigator: Robert Thoma, PhD, Assistant Professor, UNM

Mentors: Jeff Lewine, PhD (MRN) and Vince Clark, PhD (UNM Psychology)

Consultants: Ralph Hoffman, MD (psychiatry, expert in imaging and treatment of AVH), Matt Brookes, PhD (physics, expert in MEG and fMRI processing), and Judy Ford, MD (psychiatry, expert in neuroimaging of AVH)

Dr. Thoma has been studying mental illness with brain imaging for many years, and has additional expertise in clinical neuropsychiatry. His project will utilize multimodal imaging to study the neural mechanisms of treatment of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) with transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). Persistent AVH is a common and disabling aspect of SZ, despite the best available treatments. To overcome the present therapeutic limitations of AVH researchers are testing non-invasive neuromodulation techniques. One such technique, tDCS, is receiving increasing attention for its low energy deposition, low cost, portability, and ease of use. However, wide variability in response to tDCS highlights the importance of understanding its underlying neural mechanisms. In this project, tDCS will be studied from a multimodal perspective, integrating hemodynamic changes in fMRI with dynamics in magnetic fields from MEG. The long-term goal of this project is to specify tDCS for AVH on a per-subject basis, according to the subject’s neural network activation patterns. 

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