image: Psychology Logo
image: Psychology Logo
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image: Psychology Logo
Brain Imaging & Human Psychophysiology

The faculty listed below share an interest in understanding the workings of the human mind by studying the intact brain. To this end, a number of research programs in the Psychology Department focus upon the interrelationships between psychological and physiological aspects of behavior. Various foci include development, emotion, language, memory, motivation, and psychopathology.

Our department has a long and distinguished history in the area of psychophysiology. Thus, the department commands extensive technical and human resources. State-of-the-art laboratory facilities include capabilities for recording CNS, ANS and somatosensory processes. Neuroimaging facilities include a state-of-the-art PET scanner (GE ADVANCE), with fullradiochemistry and cyclotron support and a 1.5 T GE MR scanner equipped with the GE EchoSpeed echoplanar imaging system for functional MR (fMRI) studies. Included within the fMRI laboratory suite is a simulator room with the shell of a GE MR scanner set up to simulate a real scanner. Neuroimaging facilities include the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior. This state-of-the-art facility houses a General Electric 3T Signa VH/I MR system that is optimized for hight-speed echo-planar imaging as well as diffusion tensor imaging, an fMRI simulator room with a mock scanner for acclimating subjects to the neuroimaging environment and familiarizing them with behavioral testing procedures, and a PET scanner (GE ADVANCE) with fullradiochemistry and cyclotron support. Additionally, the UW-Madison MRI Center, located in the same building as the Keck laboratory, features a GE Signa 1.5 MRI scanner that is also optimized for high-speed fMRI. This resource is especially valuable for studies involving children or populations that may be difficult to test in neuroimaging situations. Extensive computer support including approximately 8 SUN or SGI workstations is available for image analysis.

Both the Psychology Department and the Waisman Center employ a number of in-house full-time electronic, mechanical, and software programming staff. Three full-time engineers in these shops provide labor without charge to researchers working in the Psychology Department.

We are especially pleased to announce that in the late Fall of 1999, students will also have the opportunity of working in the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior. This facility will be located in an interdisciplinary center on campus that will house research programs broadly related to development with strong neuroscience and behavioral components. This laboratory will consist of a new PET scanner, a tandem accelerator for radiotracer production , and a new 3T MRI scanner devoted to research. This center will provide increased opportunities for graduate students in psychology to collaborate with faculty from numerous departments including psychiatry, radiology, physics, computer science, communication disorders, and neuroscience.

Related Faculty with Primary Appointments in Psychology

Richard Davidson directs the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience. The work of this lab focuses on the biological substrates and consequences of emotion and disorders of emotion. Current studies focus on the role of the prefrontal cortex, amygdala and other cortical and subcortical circuitry on different components of affective responding, particularly features of emotion regulation. The downstream consequences of activation in this circuitry and the implications of these downstream effects for health are also of interest. We use a full range of psychophysiological measures including brain electrical activity, autonomic activity (including impedance cardiography), and skeletal-muscular activity (including startle). In addition, we use metabolic and hemodynamic neuroimaging extensively including positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging. Some of our work also includes neuroendocrine, immune and sleep assessments.

Morton Gernsbacher's lab investigates language comprehension. Their goal is to investigate the general cognitive processes and mechanisms underlying language comprehension, and comprehension in general. They do so using a simple framework, the Structure Building Framework, as a guide. They have recently begun using functional magnetic brain imaging as a tool to identify these general cognitive processes and mechanisms.

Diane Gooding is particularly interested in the biological bases of psychotic disorders, as well as individual differences in brain-behavior relationships. Using psychophysiological techniques, students in her lab study putative biobehavioral markers of schizophrenia, such as smooth pursuit eye tracking, saccadic eye movements, and nailfold capillary plexus.

Current work in the Child Emotion Research Lab, directed by Seth Pollak, is focused upon potential mechanisms in the development of both typical and atypical emotional development. We are currently exploring emotion recognition in groups of children at risk for emotional problems, including maltreated children and those with developmental disabilities. Our lab uses psychophysiological (e.g., brain electrical activity, event-related potential) and cognitive neuropsychological techniques to explore putative risk factors in the development of psychopathology. We are especially interested in the relationship between stress and disorder, and the interplay of biology and social experience in development. These general issues frame our explorations of the mechanisms through which affective/cognitive processes become organized in typical human development and may also contribute to the development of psychopathology.

Brad Postle: My interest in human memory focuses on the cognitive and neural bases of working memory and nondeclarative memory. Topics motivating recent and current research include: the organization of working memory function in prefrontal cortex; the differential contributions of prefrontal cortex and basal ganglia to visual working memory; nonmnemonic control processes that contribute to working memory performance; the mechanisms underlying repetition priming phenomena; and a novel mechanism that may support spatial working memory performance. Experimental methods employed in my laboratory include functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), behavioral testing of neurological patients and of healthy young adults, and repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).

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