MRI Scanning and COVID-19 Procedures

The Center for Functional and Molecular Imaging (CFMI) has always placed an emphasis on safety. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have developed a number of new procedures to ensure the safety of both participants and our staff. This includes thorough cleaning and disinfecting everything that touches the participants head, 15 min breaks between scans, and use of a powerful fan to provide over 17 air exchanges per hour in the scanner room, which is greater than the 15 air exchanges per hour required for hospital operating rooms. In addition, all CFMI staff are fully vaccinated and tested for COVID-19 once a month and complete a daily health screening form.

Adolescent Development Study (ADS)

The Adolescent Development Study is a study of the predictors and consequences of adolescent substance use. Three full waves of data have been completed and a fourth wave is nearing completion. A number of neuroimaging techniques are being combined with genetics and an array of neuropsychological and social assessments to obtain as complete of picture as possible of the factors that lead to substance use initiation and escalation.

Community Life and Adolescent Development Study (CLAD)

The Community Life and Adolescent Development Study is an extension of ADS that is investigating the relationship between community health, the maturation of young people’s brains and future life outcomes, specifically in the context of experiences with violence in schools and communities. This study is being led by Shady El Damaty, a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience PhD program in Ashley VanMeter's lab (CFMI).

Gender Differences in Social Adversity and Violence Exposure

This study investigates the interaction of gender, social adversity and violence exposure with respect to socio-emotional processing. Environmentally-evoked affective (i.e., emotional) states are powerful indicators of the impact of social adversity and stress on an individual and may help dissociate sex differences in cognitive-emotional development during adolescence into adulthood. Variations in affective response to stimuli with emotional content has been found based on recent exposure to social trauma and/or ongoing adversity. We are using a novel affective film-viewing fMRI task to explore these relationships. This study is building on both the ADS and CLAD studies. This study is being led by Mary Fesalbon and Masha Stoianova, postbaccalaureates in CFMI and was funded by the Gender+ Justice Initiative.