Magnetic Resonance in Psychiatry

Event information
Venue:OE 134

Dr. Alayar Kangarlu

Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute

Refreshments will be served at 1:15 PM


Magnetic resonance (MR) imaging has made a splash in characterization of psychiatric disorders. MR technologies such as voxel based morphometry (VBM), functional MRI (fMRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy MRS, and diffusion imaging (DTI) have shown to be capable of visualizing neural abnormalities and characterize their expression. MRI provides exquisite in vivo examination of neuroanatomy with potential to differentiate among psychiatric and healthy subject groups. Finding the neural substrates of some psychiatric disorders is now within the reach of structural MRI. In addition, structural MRI is more potent when combined with functional and spectroscopic (MRS) studies. Role of two metabolites, GABA and glutamate have been found to be prevalent in the schizophrenia. Contrary to the early use of MRS, today’s scanners are capable of resolving glutamate-glutamine levels which sheds light on glutametergic biosynthetic pathway in schizophrenia. The great potential of fMRI lies in its ability to detect the BOLD signal in specific brain regions to identify differences of activity between brains of clinical, subclinical and healthy subjects. Arterial Spin Labeling (ALS) has shown promise in revealing subtle brain perfusion changes occurring in psychiatric illnesses. DTI has visualized abnormalities in structural connectivity of the brain regions which in their comparison with functional connectivity maps make a great tool for assessment of the etiology of psychiatric disorders. A brief discussion will also be made about ultra high field (UHF) MRI applications and their associated perils and payoffs in the clinical settings. In this context, the challenges in the development of the precursor of UHF MRI scanners, i.e. the whole body 8T MR imager, which produced its first images fifteen years ago, will be presented along with some of its contributions in the study of multiple sclerosis, stroke, and brain tumors. Potentials of UHF MRI in providing new insight into the etiology and pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders will also be discussed.


Dr. Alayar Kangarlu is currently an associate professor of neurobiology at the department of Psychiatry and a senior physicist with the New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI). Alayar was trained in experimental physics with keen interest in theory. His interests in NMR led him to department of Radiology at Ohio State University in 1995 where he was a member of the team who built the 8 Tesla human MRI scanner and initiated the ensuing flurry of activities in ultra high field MRI. For the past 10 years, Alayar has been leading the Physics and Engineering developments on a GE 3T/94cm MR scanner at NYSPI. His interests include development of specialized RF coils and pulse sequences for high field applications in neurosciences. He is presently collaborating with the leading group of neuroscientists in the world within NYSPI and Columbia University and collectively they are improving the imaging tools for brain research to further expand potentials of NMR in unraveling the inner working of the human brain and mechanism of neuropsychiatric disorders.

The event is free and open to the public.