How is brain structure and function changed in individuals with severe mental illness? Are these changes influenced by genes that predispose to these complex disorders? Can studying brain anatomy, physiology and cognition provide a window in to the biological mechanisms leading to illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder? Will studying these traits lead to targeted treatments of these illnesses? These are the central questions addressed in Dr. David Glahn’s laboratory at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
Our aim is to discover the neurobiological roots of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder through the integration of cognitive neuropsychological, functional and structural neuroimaging, and behavioral and molecular genetic approaches. To that end, we apply the theory, methodology and experimental designs from these distinct scientific disciplines in search of the causes of psychotic disorders. Yet in order to provide traction for our investigation of mental illness, a major focus of our laboratory is to better understand the genetic underpinnings of brain structure and function in healthy families.