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 Daigle. 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 Daigle. 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

Courtney Collins (pronouns she/hers) obtained her BA in Psychology at the University of Redlands where she researched ageist beliefs among college students. Her research interests primarily focus on the neuropsychological impact of the varied manifestations of institutional racism and marginalization. This includes the neurocognitive effects of substance abuse, poverty, homelessness, trauma, incarceration, and health factors. Courtney is excited to join Dr. Gansler’s lab and to study under his mentorship as she works towards her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology.

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 Clinical Neuroscience of Cognitive Control Lab. Katrina is interested in neurocognitive indices of disease and health, with a focus on the role of executive functioning. Her early research project evaluated resting state functional brain connectivity in individuals with familial history of substance use. Her dissertation will focus on the role of executive functioning in utilizing a self-help book and achieving symptom reduction for adolescents with obsessive compulsive disorder.

Research Interests

Executive functioning; anxiety disorders; functional neuroimaging; neuropsychological outcomes.

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 motherā€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., Waters, A.B., & Gansler, D.A. (2020). Alcohol Use Frequency is Linked to Altered Functional Brain Network Connectivity in Adults with a Family History of Substance Use. Association for Psychological Science, Chicago, IL.

Daigle, K. M., Pietrzykowski, M.O., Waters, A., Swenson, L.P., & Gansler, D.A. (2020). The Central Executive Network in Schizophrenia: A Meta-Analysis of Structural and Functional MRI. Cognitive Neuroscience Society, Boston, MA.

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

Malvina Pietrzykowski graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a BS in Psychology and a minor in Biology. Previous research topics included mirror neuron networks, behavior analysis, and biomarkers of psychotic spectrum disorders  Malvina's current research interests include neuroimaging, genetics, cultural competence in neuropsychological assessment, and the diagnostic conceptualization of serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.

Poster Presentations

Pietrzykowski, M., Daigle, K., Waters, A., Swenson, L., & Gansler, D. (2020, May). The central executive network in Alzheimer’s Disease: A meta-analysis of structural and functional MRI. Poster session presented at Cognitive Neuroscience Society, (online link).

Daigle, K., Pietrzykowski, M., Waters, A., Swenson, L., & Gansler, D. (2020, March). The central executive network in Schizophrenia: A meta-analysis of structural and functional MRI. Poster session presented at Cognitive Neuroscience Society, (online link).

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

Pietrzykowski, M., Waters, A., & Gansler, D. (In progress) Factor structure and measurement invariance of a neuropsychological test battery designed for assessment of cognitive functioning in multi-ethnic rural Americans.

Daigle, K., Pietrzykowski, M., Waters, A., Swenson, L., & Gansler, D. (In progress) The central executive network and executive function in healthy and persons with Alzheimer’s Disease groups: A meta-analysis of structural and functional MRI.

Pietrzykowski, M., Daigle, K., Waters, A., Swenson, L., & Gansler, D. (In progress) The central executive network and executive function in healthy and persons with schizophrenia groups: A meta-analysis of structural and functional MRI.

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

Abigail Waters is a 5th year doctoral student in the Clinical Neuroscience of Cognitive Control Laboratory, under the mentorship of Dr. David Gansler. She currently holds an additional research position in the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Neurorehabilitation Laboratory with Dr. Joseph Giacino, on projects related to moderate-to-severe traumatic brain injury and disorders of consciousness. Abigail's research examines neuroimaging methodology and neural compensatory mechanisms related to ageing, decline, and recovery from traumatic brain injury. Her dissertation will focus on modelling the integrity within interoceptive coding networks as a predictor of functional recovery. 

Selected Publications

Waters, A., Sawyer, K., & Gansler, D. (2020). White Matter Connectometry Among Individuals with Self-Reported Family History of Drug and Alcohol Use Disorders. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 206(107710). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.107710 Electronic Preprint: BIORXIV/2019/644054

Hu, G., Zhang, Q., Waters, A., Li, H., Zhang, C., Wu, J., Cong, F., & Nickerson, L. (2019). Tensor Clustering on Outer-product of Coefficient and Component Matrices of Independent Component Analysis for Reliable Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Data Decomposition. Journal of Neuroscience Methods, 325. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneumeth.2019.108359 

Mace, R., Waters, A., Sawyer, K., Turrisi, T., & Gansler, D. (2019). Components of Executive Function Predict Regional Prefrontal Volumes. Neuropsychology. https://doi.org/10.1037/neu0000563 Electronic Preprint: BIORXIV/2018/374009

Waters, A., Mace, R., Sawyer, K., & Gansler, D. (2018). Identifying Errors in Freesurfer Automated Skull Stripping and the Incremental Utility of Manual Intervention. Brain Imaging and Behavior, 13(5), 1281-1291. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11682-018-9951-8 Electronic Preprint: BIORXIV/2017/176818

Waters, A., Sawyer, K., & Gansler, D. (2018). On the Impact of Interhemispheric White Matter: Age. Executive Functioning, and Dedifferentiation in the Frontal Lobes. International Journal Geriatric Psychiatry, 33(9), 1271-1279. https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.4924 Electronic Preprint: BIORXIV/2017/226845