The Division of Experimental Therapeutics focuses on assessment of neural mechanisms underlying serious neuropsychiatric disorders including schizophrenia, depression, ASD and early-stage dementia, and development of novel treatment approaches using psychopharmacological and non-invasive brain stimulation methodologies.
Mechanistic studies incorporate neurophysiological, function brain imaging (fMRI) and resting state functional connectivity approaches, and focus especially on deficits in early sensory processing and their contributions to impairments in social cognition and functional outcome. Over recent years, studies from within the Division have demonstrated significant deficits in both auditory and visual emotion recognition in schizophrenia, along with visual sensory processing and emotion recognition impairments in depression, ASD and dementia. These deficits serve as critical targets for diagnosis-, treatment- and neurorehabilitation-based approaches.
Pharmacological studies focus primarily on disturbances of glutamatergic neurotransmission across disorders, including impaired N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) activity in schizophrenia, and NMDAR hyperactivity in depression. NMDAR-based interventions are applied in parallel with neurophysiological- and fMRI-based target engagement measures to evaluate neural bases of novel therapeutic effects.
The Program in Brain Stimulation conducts research in the use of seizure-based treatments including Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) for depression, and of transcranial electrical stimulation (tES) including transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) for schizophrenia and depression.
The Division interacts closely with the Lieber Clinic to conduct early phase clinical studies of novel therapeutic agents, and with the C.O.P.E. Clinic to perform neurophysiological, neuroimaging treatment studies in the schizophrenia prodrome.