Research

Graduate students in the Swartz lab will have the opportunity to work with two different data sets on which Dr. Swartz is PI.

The Adolescent Health and Brain Study

This is a study of adolescents recruited from the Sacramento area designed to examine the associations between health, mental health, and brain function in adolescents. Adolescents in the study completed questionnaires, provided a blood sample, and completed an fMRI scan. Blood samples are assayed for inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP). Some of the questions we are examining with this study include:

–What are the associations between peripheral inflammatory markers collected from the blood sample and brain function assessed with fMRI? This will help us understand the potential connections between stress, physical health, and mental health.

–Which patterns of brain function relate to mental health measures such as symptoms of depression and anxiety?

Identifying Depression Early in Adolescence (IDEA) and the Brazilian-American Initiative on Neuroimaging for Identifying Depression Early in Adolescence (BRAIN-IDEA)

Most neuroimaging research on adolescent brain development and mental health has been conducted in high-income countries such as the U.S., so it is unclear whether results from this research will generalize to other populations. In the IDEA study, we recruited a sample of adolescents from Porto Alegre, Brazil at high or low risk for depression, or with current depression, and conducted an fMRI scan to examine brain function associated with risk and presence of depression. In a newly funded R21 grant from NIMH, we are conducting BRAIN-IDEA, a longitudinal follow-up study of this cohort of adolescents. Some of the questions we will examine with this study include:

–How does risk and presence of depression relate to changes in adolescent brain function over time?

–Which changes in brain function correlate with increases or decreases in depression symptoms over time?