Clinical Neuroscience of Cognitive Control Laboratory

David A. Gansler, Ph.D.

To learn more about Dr. Dave Gansler and his work, please visit his faculty page.

Recent peer-review publications

*Mace, R.A., *Waters, A.B., Sawyer, K.S., Turrisi, T., & Gansler, D.A. Components of Executive Functioning Predict Regional Prefrontal Volumes. (a manuscript in press at Neuropsychology).

*Pan, J.J., Sawyer, K., McDonough, E.K., “Slotpole, L., & Gansler, D.A. (2018) Cognitive, Neuroanatomical and Genetic Predictors of Executive Function in Healthy Children and Adolescents. Developmental Neuropsychology, 43 (7), 535-550.

*Waters, A.B., Sawyer, K.S., & Gansler, D.A. (2018). On the impact of interhemispheric white matter: Age, executive functioning, and dedifferentiation in the frontal lobes. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 33 (9), 1271-1279.

*Levy, Sarah A., Gansler, D.A., Huey, E.D., Wassermann, E., & Grafman, J. (2018). Assessment of patient self-awareness and related neural correlates in Frontotemporal Dementia and Corticobasal Syndrome. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 33, 519-529. doi:10.1093/arclin/acx105

Current Research Projects

A Meta-Analysis of Executive Functioning in Frontal Cortex: Comparing Healthy and Neuropsychiatric Groups.

This is a project led by doctoral student Abigail Waters. It deals with the degree and nature of the association of executive function (cognitive control) and the brain central executive network. This is an issue of great relevance for basic and applied research in the clinical neurosciences. Is this brain-behavior relationship similar in individuals who meet- and do not meet- diagnostic criteria for a neuropsychiatric disorder similar or different? If our current methods ‘capture’ only a weak association does this mean we need more robust (i.e., error free) measurement, or, does it mean we should give re-consideration to our current brain-behavior models?

White Matter Connectometry Among Individuals with Self-Reported Family History of Drug and Alcohol Use Disorders

This is a project led by doctoral student Abigail Waters. Heredity is known to exert a strong influence on the occurrence of alcohol use disorders. Less is known about the neural mechanisms of that heredity. A current framework for addictions research is the brain as a connectome. It follows that certain functional networks should be more involved in addictions (salience) than others (visuo-perception). Diffusion tensor imaging data from the Human Connectome Project is leveraged for the hypothesis testing. This project asks the question- are relevant brain networks involved in the heredity of alcoholism independent of the effects of alcohol consumption? If not specific networks, is there a brain-wise heredity effect? Hereditary Risk of Chemical Dependency and Resting State Functional Brain Networks This is a project led by doctoral student Katrina D’Aigle. Heredity is known to exert a strong influence on the occurrence of alcohol use disorders. Less is known about the neural mechanisms of that heredity. A current framework for addictions research is the brain as a connectome. It follows that certain functional networks should be more involved in addictions (salience) than others (visuo-perception). Resting state functional connectivity data from the Human Connectome Project is leveraged for the hypothesis testing. This project asks the question- are relevant brain networks involved in the heredity of alcoholism independent of the effects of alcohol consumption? If not specific networks, is there a brain-wise heredity effect?

Hereditary Risk of Chemical Dependency and Resting State Functional Brain Networks

This is a project led by doctoral student Katrina D’Aigle. Heredity is known to exert a strong influence on the occurrence of alcohol use disorders. Less is known about the neural mechanisms of that heredity. A current framework for addictions research is the brain as a connectome. It follows that certain functional networks should be more involved in addictions (salience) than others (visuo-perception). Resting state functional connectivity data from the Human Connectome Project is leveraged for the hypothesis testing. This project asks the question- are relevant brain networks involved in the heredity of alcoholism independent of the effects of alcohol consumption? If not specific networks, is there a brain-wise heredity effect?

Current Graduate Students

Ryan Mace has a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Maryland and a M.S. Clinical Psychology at Suffolk University. While pursuing a Clinical Psychology Ph.D. at Suffolk University, Ryan works in the Big Data/Brain Image Analysis Laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. David Gansler. His research evaluates psychosocial interventions for dementia and identifies brain–behavior determinants of mental health. Ryan has co-developed a system of screening instruments to optimize the assessment of mood and cognitive functioning with advancing age. Ryan is increasingly interested in the role of psychology in promoting positive lifestyle changes. His dissertation is an analysis of the brain health benefits of cardiovascular fitness in aging from a neuroimaging perspective. Ryan is completing a doctoral internship in clinical psychology at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) for his final year of graduate school. At MGH, he provides evidence-based psychotherapy for older adults facing chronic conditions and comorbid mental illnesses. During internship, he seeks to apply is dissertation research by helping patients develop healthy habits and promote resilience with aging.

Research Interests

Brain health, aging, statistics, research methods, psychometrics 

Select Publications

Mace, R. A., Waters, A. B., Sawyer, K. S., Turrisi, T., & Gansler, D. A. (in press). Components of executive function model regional prefrontal volumes. Neuropsychology. Online via ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/326549264_Components_of_Executive_Function_Model_Regional_Prefrontal_Volumes

Funes, C. J.*, Mace, R. A.*, Macklin, E. A., Plotkin, S. R., Jordan, J. T., & Vranceanu, A. (2019). First report of quality of life in adults with neurofibromatosis 2 who are deafened or have significant hearing loss: results of a live-video randomized control trial. Journal of Neuro-Oncology, 143(3), 505–513. *Shared first authorship for equal contributions

Waters, B. A., Mace, R. A., Sawyer, K. S., & Gansler, D. A. (2018). Identifying errors in Freesurfer automated skull stripping and the incremental utility of manual intervention. Brain Imaging and Behavior. doi: 10.1007/s11682-018-9951-8

Mansbach, W. E., & Mace, R. A. (2018). Predicting functional dependence in mild cognitive impairment: differential contributions of memory and executive functions. The Gerontologist. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1093/geront/gny097

Mace, R. A., Gansler, D. A., Suvak, M. K., Gabris, C. M., Arean, P. A., Raue, P. J., & Alexopoulos, G. S. (2017). Therapeutic Alliance in the Treatment of Geriatric Depression with Executive Dysfunction. Journal of Affective Disorders, 214, 130-137. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2017.03.006

Sarah is a 5th year doctoral student currently completing her predoctoral internship at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System in West Haven. Previously, she has completed clinical practica at McLean Hospital, Bedford VA, VA Boston Healthcare System, and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She works in the Big Data/Brain Image Analysis Laboratory under the mentorship of Dr. David Gansler. Research topics include the use of neuroimaging in conjunction with neuropsychological testing to better predict clinical outcomes and further understand neurological disease. Her early research project examined resting-state functional connectivity and cognition in a sample of adults with alcoholism who had achieved long-term abstinence. For her dissertation, she is using structural equation modeling to parse out different factors (i.e., cognitive, personality, neuroanatomical) thought to be involved in reward-based decision making. Feel free to reach out to Sarah.

Research Interests

Temporal discounting; alcohol use disorders; traumatic brain injury; dementia; neuroimaging; neuropsychological outcome

Publications

Levy, S., Gansler, D., Huey, E., Wassermann, E., & Grafman, J. (2017). Assessment of patient self-awareness and related neural correlates in frontotemporal dementia and corticobasal syndrome. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 1-11. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acx105

Xu, B., Sandrini, M., Levy, S., Volochayev, R., Oluwole, A., Butman, J., Pham, D. L., & Cohen, L. G. (2017). Lasting deficit in inhibitory control with mild traumatic brain injury. Scientific Reports,7(14902). doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-14867-y

Xu, B., Levy S., Butman, J., Pham, D., Cohen, L. G., & Sandrini, M. (2015). Effect of foreknowledge on neural activity of primary “go” responses influences response stopping and switching. Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, 9(34), 1-12. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2015.00034

Parks, E. M., Burns, E. L., Bazzill, B., Levy, S., Posada, V., & Müller, R. A. (2010). An fMRI study of sentence-embedded lexical-semantic decision in children and adults. Brain and Language, 114(2), 90-100. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2010.03.009

Select Presentations

Levy, S., Waters, A. B., & Gansler, D. A. (2019, February). Exploration of the Underlying Mechanisms of Delay Discounting. Poster presented at the 47th Annual Meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society, New York, NY.

Levy, S., Sawyer, K. S., Woodruff, C., Ruiz, S. M., Harris, G., Gansler, D. A., & Oscar-Berman, M. (2016, February). Functional connectivity in long-term abstinent alcoholics. Poster presented at the 44th Annual Meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society, Boston, MA.

Levy, S., Lopez, K., McNally, S., Dsurney, J., & Chan, L. (2014, March). The utility of structural MRI as a predictor of neuropsychological outcome in TBI. Poster presented at the 10th World Congress on Brain Injury, San Francisco, CA.

 

Katrina has earned her B.A. and M.A. in Psychology with a focus in Child Development and Neuroscience from the University of Maine. While at the University of Maine, Katrina’s research focused on neurobiological and cognitive correlates of sleep in opioid-exposed infants and in the aging population. Currently, she is pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Suffolk University under the mentorship of Dr. David Gansler in the Brain Image Analysis Lab. Katrina is interested in neurocognitive indices of disease and health, with a focus on the functional connectivity of the brain. Her early research project evaluates resting state functional brain connectivity in individuals with familial history of substance use.

Research Interests

Substance use disorders; functional neuroimaging; neuropsychological outcomes; executive functioning

Publications

Daigle, K.M., Heller, N.A., Sulinski, E.J., Shim, J., Brown, M.S., Gosse, J.A. & Hayes, M.J. (2019). Maternal responsivity and oxytocin in opioid-dependent mothers. Developmental Psychobiology.

Wachman, E. M., Hayes, M. J., Shrestha, H., Nikita, F. N. U., Nolin, A., Hoyo, L., Daigle, K.M., Jones, H.E., & Nielsen, D. A. (2018). Epigenetic variation in OPRM1 gene in opioid exposed mother‐infant dyads. Genes, Brain and Behavior, 17(7), e12476.

MacAulay, R.K., Calamia, M.R., Cohen, A.S., Daigle, K.M., Foil, H., Brouillette, R., Bruce Keller, A.J., Keller, J.N. (2017). Understanding Heterogeneity in Older Adults: Latent Growth Curve Modeling of Cognitive Functioning. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology, 40(3), 292-302.

Select Presentations

Daigle, K.M., Sulinski, E.J., Almaghasilah, A., Singer, C., Abedi, A., & Hayes., M.J. (2017). Sleep- Related Spontaneous Movements Slow Cognitive Decline in Aging. Dementia: A Vascular Perspective, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada.

Daigle, K.M., Hayes, M.J., Shrestha, H., Sulinski, E.J., Heller, N.A., Brown, M., Neilsen, D.A., Wachman, E.M. (2016). Invited Oral Presentation, Sleep Organization and COMT allelic variation in Opioid-Exposed Infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. International n Behavior and Neural Genetics Society Annual Conference, The Jackson Laboratory, Bar Harbor, Maine.

Daigle, K.M., Hayes, M.J., Shrestha, H., Sulinski, E.J., Delp, T.W., ... Brown, M.S., Wachman, E. (2016). COMT and OPRM1 Allelic Variations in Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Severity. Oral Presentation at the Society for Neuroscience, Maine Chapter, Jackson Laboratories, Bar Harbor, ME.

Daigle, K.M., Stavros, M., Folger, C., Heller, N.A., Shrestha, H., & Hayes, M.J. (2014). Maternal Opioid Use: Role of Methadone Dose on Oxytocin Level, Mother-Infant Interaction and Depressive State. Poster presented at the Maine Chapter Society for Neuroscience conference, Orono, ME.

Malvina Pietrzykowski graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a BS in Psychology and a minor in Biology. For her honors thesis, Malvina conducted an experiment regarding physiological measures of pain empathy by mirror neurons and has spent two years assisting with projects at the Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center in Hartford, CT. She has also worked as a research assistant in a behavior analysis lab. Malvina's research interests include genetics, neuropsychological assessment, neuroimaging, and the diagnosis and treatment of severe disorders such as schizophrenia.

Poster Presentations

Pietrzykowski, M.(2019, April). Physiological measures of pain empathy implicating mirror neuron activity and gender differences in self-reported empathy. Oral presentation presented at National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Kennesaw, Georgia.

Pietrzykowski, M., Diller, J., & Salters-Pedneault, K. (2018, October) Everyday reinforcement and punishment. Poster session presented at Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy, Amherst, Massachusetts. 

Diller, J., McDevitt, M., & Pietrzykowski, M.(2018, May). Evaluating effects on risky choice in pigeons and humans. Poster session presented at Association for Behavior Analysis International, San Diego, California.

Pietrzykowski, M.(2018, April). Physiological measures of empathy pain implicating mirror neuron activity and gender differences in self-reported empathy. Poster session presented at National Conference on Undergraduate Research, Edmund, Oklahoma.

Pietrzykowski, M.(2017, May). Exploring the relationship between religion/spirituality and stress in college students. Poster session presented at Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, Connecticut.

Pietrzykowski, M.(2016, December). The neuropsychological effects of religion and spirituality.Poster session presented at Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, Connecticut.

Publications

McDevitt, M. A., Diller, J. W., & Pietrzykowski, M. O. Human and pigeon suboptimal choice. Learning & Behavior (in press).