Cognitive Neuroscience Research in Mood Disorders

Allan Tasman MD and Estate Sokhadze, Ph.D. – Principal Investigators Rif El-Mallakh, M.D., Manuel Casanova, MD, and Yalchin Abdulaev, MD – Co-investigators

This research group uses a state of the art system of computer analysis of brain responses to a variety of stimuli, using a 128 channel electroencephalography (which measures the electrical patterns of the brain at rest and while at work) system. One study (Abdulaev and Tasman) showed that depressed patients had abnormal activation of the brain in the frontal lobes and delayed rate of communication across brain pathways in depressed patients. The abnormal activation was shown to disappear with successful treatment with antidepressant medications. This finding offers insight into the nature of the brain abnormality in depression, as well as a possible test for treatment success. Studies of bipolar patients (Sokhadze, El-Mallakh, and Tasman) have shown that individuals with bipolar disorder process stimuli of several types in distinct ways. These finding may shed light on the primary functional mechanisms for symptoms in bipolar disorder, and point to directions for potential treatment approaches. Studies of patients with autism (Sokhadze, Casanova, and Tasman) using a just approved innovative treatment involving a brief intense pulse of magnetic energy, showed clinical improvement believed to be based on changes in the function of the brain in the area treated. The proposed mechanism of the changes have an important application to patients with mood disorders, and has the pointed to a new direction for treatment research.