Bipolar Aging and Imaging Study  Bipolar Inflammaging Study Psychobiology of Cognition and Positive Traits in Aging  Gender and the Brain
We are conducting a research study about brain aging with individuals who have a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder I. We use functional and structural neuroimaging techniques along with other measures to assess how aging may differentially affect individuals with bipolar disorder as compared to those without the disorder.


The goal of this study is to better understand the role of changes in mood and inflammatory function on cognitive aging in bipolar disorder. The function of factors important for the immune system, such as inflammatory cytokines, can change with age and predict cognitive decline in mentally healthy individuals, and levels of cytokines appear to be abnormal in individuals with bipolar disorder. In this investigation, we hope to discover how fluctuations in these cytokine levels and in mood affect long-term cognitive decline in bipolar disorder. We will use cell phone and activity monitoring technology, along with home visits, to test day-to-day and year-to-year relationships among these variables.

We are interested in understanding how individual levels of compassion, empathy, and other positive psychological traits (for example, resilience and optimism) relate to differences in brain function and well-being across the lifespan. To understand these differences, we have been using multiple methods, including those from cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, biology, psychiatry, social psychology, and medical anthropology.

The primary focus of this study is to identify biological substrates of gender identity in the brain. Observations of individuals with Alternating Gender Identity (AGI) allows for a unique opportunity to better examine the biological foundations of mental sex. Functional magnetic resonance imaging measures and endocrinological measures will be used to assess changes in resting state connectivity and hormonal fluctuations. We aim to understand how functional connectivity in the default mode network,  hypothesized to be critical in self-referential cognition, is affected by gender state.