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COBRE Phase 2 Project 5: Christopher Abbott //

Project 5: Multi-modal imaging investigation of electroconvulsive therapy response in late-life depressive episodes

Principal Investigator: Christopher Abbott, MD (UNM Psychiatry)

Mentors: Juan Bustillo, MD (UNM Psychiatry), Andy Mayer, PhD (MRN) and Vince Calhoun, PhD (MRN/UNM)

Consultants: Georgios Petrides, MD (psychiatry, expert in ECT) and Paul Holtzheimer, MD, MS (psychiatry, expert in and treatment of mood disorders)

Dr. Abbott is a psychiatrist who has devoutly studied brain imaging methods under Dr. Calhoun and, as a result, received a K-award. He has performed studies of the impact of medication on functional connectivity, and more recently the impact of ECT on functional network connectivity. The overall aim of his investigation is to identify biomarkers associated with ECT response. The current proposal employs a case-control longitudinal design to assess the hypothesized normalization of aberrant limbic, cognitive, and default mode networks and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). He will assess between and within network changes associated with ECT response. Additionally, he will use proton spectroscopy (H-MRS) to measure changes in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) concentrations, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, thought to be involved in depression. The multi-modal aspect of this investigation will link changes in GABA concentrations with fMRI biomarkers of ECT response; specifically, a reduction in temporal coherence in limbic and para-limbic networks. This research’s impact will be a better understanding of the functional neural correlates of ECT response, which will help to optimize ECT treatment parameters and extend to other therapeutic interventions for treatment-resistant depression. 

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