A fundamental question across the brain sciences is the extent to which males and females differ from one another. Prior work suggests males and females exhibit largely overlapping but distinct patterns of brain organisation and behavioral presentation. An understanding of the sex differences that exist in brain and behavior in healthy populations is crucial for the subsequent study of psychiatric illnesses which exhibit sex differences in prevalence, symptomatology, risk factors, trajectory, and treatment response. The Brain-Based Predictive Modeling Laboratory focuses on characterizing the shared and unique neurobiological bases of human behavior in males and females across healthy and clinical populations. A core motivation driving this work is the search for sex-specific functional and structural underpinnings of complex behaviors, which may underlie distinct manifestations of psychopathology in males and females. In pursuit of this goal, our research focuses on three complementary themes:
Sex Differences in Brain and Behavior
Until the last few decades, the female sex was largely ignored in basic, translational, and clinical research. Recent analyses have revealed that although males and females are similar across many domains, there are differences in neurobiology and behaviors that must be acknowledged. By integrating data from multiple large-scale publicly available datasets acquired in diverse populations throughout the lifespan, we study sex differences in brain (anatomy, function, white matter tracts) and behavioral traits (cognitive, social, personality, and mental health domains).
Neural Correlates of Behavioral Traits
Tens of billions of neurons interconnect in the human brain. Anatomical organisation, and direct and indirect structural white matter connections between these neurons facilitate the flow of functional activation signals between different brain regions. Together, these anatomical, structural, and functional properties give rise to human behavior. Relying on large-scale publicly available neuroimaging and behavioral datasets acquired from diverse healthy populations, we develop brain-based predictive models to establish neural correlates of behavioral traits across cognitive, social, personality, and mental health domains.
Neurobiological Correlates of Psychiatric Illness
Psychiatric diagnoses categorize clusters of co-occurring symptoms that recur across multiple distinct illnesses while lacking clear discernible borders. While the presence of specific symptom profiles distinguishes different disorders, the shared and unique neurobiological correlates of distinct disorders remain to be established. Moreover, sex differences exist in prevalence, symptomatology, and risk factors for mental illnesses. Using large datasets acquired in different psychiatric populations, we study how different neurobiological (anatomical, white matter, and functional) properties are associated with behaviors across psychiatric illnesses.