Friday, March 03, 2006

CIMBI alive

The Center for Integrated Molecular Brain Imaging (CIMBI) is now officially opened. The overall idea behind this massive project is to study cognitive, psychological and biological phenomena with a multi-modal approach, combining data from genotyping, PET scanning and MRI scanning. The main project of CIMBI is to study "the neural bases of personality dimensions that predispose individuals to affective and substance use disorders, with special emphasis on the serotonergic neurotransmitter system". In other words: to study the biological mechanisms behind personality formation. They are currently recruiting (and looking for) the best-qualified personnel for the new available positions.

One part of the CIMBI project involves looking at how genes coding for seretonin affect the seretonin transport function, and furthermore how the function of seretonergic areas of the brain operate depending on the genetic makeup of a subject. In this latter part, I am involved in doing the MRI study, including three fMRI protocols:
  1. Processing of facial affect - how genes affect the processing of facial expression, especially the difference between aversive and neutral faces.
  2. Memory processing in the medial temporal lobe (MTL) - how different parts of the MTL make different contribution to specific phases in memory processing: preparation, encoding, rehearsal and retrieval.
  3. Categorization task - the difference between choosing between high-specificity options (within-category choices, e.g. "donkey or zebra") or low-specificity options (between-category choices, e.g. "living or non-living")
Data will be combined between fMRI (BOLD and perfusion), genotype and seretonine function as measured with PET. In addition we are looking at the relative contribution of changes in volume and form of MTL areas to the overall signal differences found in other modalities.

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