Diseases and Disorders
Obtaining a better understanding of the neural features underlying and possible causes of disease states is a major goal at the Berenson-Allen Center. Whether diseases of age, genetics, or lifestyle, we believe imaging and modulating brain activity may be the key to better understanding and, possibly, alleviating many disorders.
Alzheimer's Disease / Dementia
As life expectancy grows to unprecedented ages, diseases of age, especially Alzheimer's and Dementia, are becoming more and more prevalent. Accordingly, understanding and combating this disease has become a major focus of many labs, including the Berenson-Allen Center. Through brain stimulation and imaging, we are exploring various methods to alleviate symptomology and improve the quality of life of those suffering from these debilitating diseases.
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder designates any pervasive developmental disorder. Typically characterized by social deficits, communication difficulties, and focused interests, ASD is still largely a mystery across the medical community. Here at the Berenson-Allen Center, we are combining brain stimulation with measures of plasticity to explore potential biomarkers and therapeutic interventions for this disorder.
Perhaps the most widely known application of TMS is depression treatment. Despite FDA approval of the NeuroStar device and protocol, much more research is needed before all TMS devices and potential treatment protocols will be approved. Accordingly, we are researching varied off-label TMS parameters and devices that may aid in the alleviation and management of medication resistant depression.
Epilepsy is a common chronic neurologic disorder characterized by transient seizures. Common comorbidities of this disorder are depression and anxiety. As seizures are often attributable to abnormal electrical neuronal activity, we have long examined the impact of TMS and tDCS both before and during seizure episodes. We hope someday to use brain stimulation not only to predict seizure onset but also to help determine neural markers of developing seizure disorders.
Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. Although marked early by movement related symptomology, later developments include cognitive and behavioral decline. Via brain stimulation, we are looking at methods of alleviating early motor and later cognitive problems. In addition, we are using measures of plasticity in an attempt to find early onset preventative markers for this disease.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a gradual decline in thought and emotional responsiveness. Often marked by hallucinations and feelings of paranoia or grandeur, schizophrenia is often treated using fairly powerful psychopharmaceuticals. We are currently looking into biomarkers for this disease that are responsive to TMS and we are exploring the effect of neuromodulation on unique symptom sets.
Stroke / Aphasia
A stroke is a rapid decline of brain function caused by a disturbance on the brain's blood supply. A common impairment following some strokes is Aphasia: a disorder of language marked by the inability to speak, read, or write. We are exploring the effect of neuromodulation on aphasic symptoms and whether or not TMS can be used to help in the rehabilitative efforts of those suffering from this disorder.
Traumatic Brain injury
Traumatic brain injury occurs when a sudden trauma to the head causes damage to the brain. These injuries can be mild, moderate, or severe but each can generate severe cognitive and/or behavioral changes. At the Berenson-Allen Center we are interested in how these injuries impact global network communication and plastic change within the brain. In addition, we are investigating the ability of neuromodulation to prognosticate TBI severity.