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Our goal is to develop a better understanding of the neurobiological processes underlying several common aspects of human behavior and how variations or alterations of these processes can lead to negative physical and behavioral health effects. One area of focus is improving our understanding of food intake behaviors and energy expenditure, how these are different between men and women, and how seemingly small differences in these behaviors can contribute to obesity. We are interested in these processes not only in the general population, but also in populations with specific behavioral health challenges, such as in individuals with schizophrenia, who are especially vulnerable to obesity and metabolic disorders. Finally, our group’s longest-standing interest has been in understanding exactly how brain function is altered in schizophrenia, and trying to develop new treatments to alleviate suffering in the illness.
Most of our research uses functional and structural brain imaging, performed at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Brain Imaging Center, directed by Dr. Tregellas. Much of this imaging involves the use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which allows us to determine, either during a specific task or even at rest, how different brain regions or networks are working. We also use techniques such MR spectroscopy, which allows us to determine levels of different neurotransmitters, and structural imaging, which allows us to examine brain gray and white matter organization.