Child and Adolescent Brain Development and Mental Disorders

Mental health problems in children and adolescents have been a significant issue in China. We attempt to connect the mental health problems to individual differences in brain development that synthesizes and reflects genetic and environmental factors. We are closely collaborating with the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Shanghai Mental Health Center, to construct a neuroimaging cohort of children and adolescents with anxiety disorders. In the future, we aim to extend this cohort into a full-spectrum neuroimaging cohort of mental disorders in children and adolescents.

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Neuroimaing Methodologies

Our current methodology developments aim to tackle the heterogeneity of psychiatric neuroimaging. Our efforts are two folds. First, we attempt to reveal and decompose the inter-individual variability in psychiatric neuroimaging data, with a transdiagnosis philosophy; Second, we are developing imaging paradigms that have a larger effect size in identifying individuals with mental disorders.

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The Precuneus Network

The precuneus network (PCN), or parietal memory network in some studies, refers to an intrinsic connectivity network anchors at the dorsal precuneus and the ventral posterior cingulate. In previous methodological studies, we discovered that this network and the default mode network (DMN) could be separated using ICA, and the PCN and DMN exhibited different cross-lifespan changes (Yang et al., 2012; 2014). This project aims to investigate why and how to separate PCN from DMN. We provide evidence from cross-lifespan development, heritability, clinical applications, and methodology to support that PCN stands as a different intrinsic connectivity network from DMN. Please see the “Read more” for a series of findings regarding this topic. We are still working on characterizing the specific functions of PCN.

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Cross-diagnosis Psychiatric Neuroimaging

Taking charge of the Psychiatric Imaging Center (PIC) at the Shanghai Mental Health Center, we have constructed a cross-mental disorder neuroimaging database.

Currently, the database posses 7000+ samples of neuroimaging data, covering 10+ major diagnosis categories. We are working on common and specific neuroimaging features across mental disorders.

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