Understanding how the brain works is one of the biggest puzzles left for science to solve. Answers to critical questions in neuroscience lie at a pivotal intersection between biology, cognitive psychology, computer science, statistics and engineering – areas where Carnegie Mellon University excels.
The Brain Institute’s mission is to unlock the mysteries of normal and abnormal brain function and then translate discoveries into new approaches for overcoming brain disorders. The formula is simple: Basic science research enables discoveries that lead to treatments and cures.
The Neuromag® is a state-of-the-art neuromagnetic recording system capable of non-invasively recording magnetic fields produced by neuronal activity occurring within the brain. This observed data is called the magnetoencephalogram (MEG) and is analogous to the electroencephalogram (EEG) but represents the magnetic fields produced by ion flow associated with neuronal activity rather than the electric potentials measured in the EEG.
The Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging strives for scientific innovation in the use of brain imaging to better understand psychological processes. The focus tends to be on processes associated with high-level cognition, such as language comprehension, visual thinking, social processing, multitasking, and executive processing. The general research goal is to develop a unified theory of cognition that is driven by and accounts for the brain activation in the cortex, at the level of large scale neural networks that perform cognitive computations. The goal is to explain how thought emerges from brain function and how it is affected by brain dysfunctions.
CNUP is a multidisciplinary center with members whose primary appointments are in 16 different departments. Their research interests span the breadth of neuroscience, and a number of concentration areas involve diverse groups of scientists. CNUP has a sense of community highlighted by interactive and collaborative aspects in many of our research programs. One of the major responsibilities of CNUP is to oversee doctoral training in neuroscience at Pitt. Their graduates have gone on to outstanding post-doctoral research positions in academia or industry. The program is supported in part by a large pre-doctoral training grant from the National Institutes of Health and was one of eight nationwide participating in the Carnegie Foundation#8217;s Initiative on the Doctorate to explore the meaning of graduate education in neuroscience.
The Silvio O. Conte Center for Translational Mental Health Research focuses on the mechanisms that link the pathology, pathophysiology and clinical features of schizophrenia. The investigations of the Center reflect the synergistic scientific interactions among Center investigators from the University of Pittsburgh Schools of Medicine and Arts and Sciences, and Carnegie Mellon University, and the resulting development and implementation of innovative experimental designs and research tools to achieve these goals. Collectively, the Center represents a broad array of expertise spanning molecular, systems, cognitive, computational and clinical neuroscience.
The mission of the Learning Research and Development Center (LRDC) at the University of Pittsburgh is to advance the science of learning by bringing together leading researchers in the cognitive, social, and educational sciences. This mission has guided LRDC in its programs of basic and applied research, its demonstration projects, and its direct support of school improvement and reform. In LRDC’s multidisciplinary setting, scientists study learning in its cognitive, neural, social, and organizational aspects, making research and development links to formal education practice, policy, and out-of-school settings. The center has pursued this mission by promoting research that evolves over time, informed by varied perspectives across multiple disciplines. LRDC’s research portfolio includes large programs of extended duration as well as single-investigator projects that are generally of smaller scope and shorter length.
The MR Research Center is dedicated to the development and application of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) for medical and biological research and is forging new paths in the use of functional MRI to study cognitive, sensory, and motor function in the brain. Participation of all interested investigators in the local research community is encouraged.
Since its discovery, the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) phenomenon has been utilized to extract an unprecedented level of chemical and biological information. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has had a major impact in the clinical and research arenas, providing anatomical and pathological data, which are especially useful for disease diagnosis. Recent developments for the study of intact biological systems include functional MRI (fMRI) and physiological MRI methodologies. The primary focus of this research lab is to develop and understand the in vivo NMR techniques which provide information on function, physiology, and anatomy.
Positron emission tomography, or PET, is a medical imaging technique that employs trace amounts of short-lived species of carbon, fluorine, nitrogen, oxygen, and metal ions that decay by the emission of a positron, the anti-particle of the electron. These species of unstable atoms do not occur naturally, but rather must be produced in a nuclear reactor or on-site using a type of particle accelerator called a cyclotron. The cyclotron uses strong electric fields to accelerate charged particles (e.g., a proton) to high energies and it uses strong magnetic fields to contain and direct the accelerated particles. The PET Research Center is a world-class facility, most recently famous for producing Pittsburgh Compound B, a revolutionary amyloid imaging agent that detects plaques associated with Alzheimer#8217;s disease. GE Healthcare has licensed the compound, which scientists are currently testing in clinical trials. The center remains very active in Alzheimer#8217;s disease research, particularly in studying disease progression and pre-symptomatic markers.
Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center provides university, government, and industrial researchers with access to several of the most powerful systems for high-performance computing, communications and data-handling available to scientists and engineers nationwide for unclassified research. PSC advances the state-of-the-art in high-performance computing, communications and informatics and offers a flexible environment for solving the largest and most challenging problems in computational science. As a leading partner in XSEDE, the National Science Foundation program of coordinated cyberinfrastructure for education and research, PSC works with its XSEDE partners to harness the full range of information technologies to enable discovery in U.S. science and engineering.
The overall objective of the Translational Neuroscience Program, is to understand the neurobiological basis for complex human cognitive and emotional functions, and the manner in which alterations in the brain give rise to the types of disturbances in these functions that characterize psychiatric disorders. Disorders of particular interest include schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, addiction, and Alzheimer disease with psychosis. In pursuit of this goal, Program scientists seek to #8220;translate" clinical observations into hypotheses about the biological mechanisms involved in a disease process that can be tested in the more tractable conditions of the laboratory in order to guide the identification of molecular targets for drug development. Indeed, the principal motivation for these studies is the acquisition of the knowledge needed to develop novel approaches for improving the treatment and prevention of these disorders.