Our research focuses on understanding the neurodevelopmental trajectories of psychiatric disorders that arise during childhood and adolescence. We use multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the functioning and structure of neural circuits that support the capacity to self-regulate one’s thoughts, actions, and urges, and the circuits that support learning and memory. We conduct studies aimed at assessing the neurodevelopment of these circuits in healthy children and adolescents and in adolescents with eating disorders. We also assess circuit-based changes following treatment in children, adolescents, and adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Amy Margolis, PhD
Principal Investigator, Promise Project Reading Study, Assistant Professor of Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry)
Amy Margolis has a PhD in applied educational psychology: school psychology, and an MSEd in neuroscience and education from Teachers College. In the first decade of her career, she established a comprehensive assessment and treatment program for children with learning disabilities and attention disorders. In 2010, Dr. Margolis transitioned to a research career and completed the NIMH-funded T32 in research in child psychiatry in 2013, becoming an Assistant Professor in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Her research aims to understand how learning problems are related to underlying deficiencies in the structure and function of neural systems that support learning processes. With funding from PROMISE at Columbia, she is using MRI to examine how neural circuits that support cognitive control and learning processes produce reading disorder and, with funding from the NVLD Project, she is studying children with nonverbal learning disorder. Dr. Margolis is the recent recipient of an NIEHS–funded K Award to study how exposure to neurotoxic chemicals may affect neurodevelopment and manifest as subsequent learning and social problems. Her research program seeks to inform the development of novel therapeutics and early prevention programs for people with learning disabilities.
Xiaofu He, PhD
Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurobiology
Dr. He received his PhD in pattern recognition and intelligent systems from Shanghai Jiao Tong University. During his graduate studies, he was trained in the research of image processing and pattern recognition with a focus on biometrics. During his postdoctoral training, Dr. He developed expertise in brain imaging, including structural MRI, functional MRI (fMRI), and, particularly, diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). One of Dr. He’s long-term goals is to bring together his expertise in image processing, pattern recognition, computational modeling, and neuroimaging to the challenge of understanding the developing brain, leading to more reliable findings in the important area of clinically oriented neuroimaging research and to better understand the mechanisms of depression and other psychiatric disorders.
Marilyn Cyr, PhD, PsyD
Post-doctoral Research Fellow
Dr. Cyr received a MSc and a PhD in experimental psychology and a PsyD in clinical psychology from the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM). Her graduate research focused on examining the role of brain neurochemical systems in cognition and behavior, using various techniques, such as PET imaging. Her clinical predoctoral internship focused on the treatment of patients with pathological eating and patients with OCD. In recent years, she has developed an interest in the neurobiology and treatment of disorders characterized by deficits in self-regulation (inhibition, emotion regulation, and impulse control), particularly eating disorders.
Mirjana Domakonda, MD
Post-doctoral Research Fellow
Dr. Mirjana Domakonda received her BS in biology at the College of New Jersey, and earned her MD at the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine. During medical school, she developed an interest in childhood obesity and eating disorders, studying the impact of statewide BMI screenings on Pennsylvania’s school-age youth. Dr. Domakonda completed her adult psychiatry residency at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. During her residency training, she refined her clinical skills and research interests, with an ongoing focus on disordered eating and its impact on psychological function. She recently completed her child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program of Columbia and Cornell Universities. During this clinical fellowship, she began working with Dr. Rachel Marsh and received pilot funding from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry to study attention bias and the functioning of attentional circuits in adolescents with bulimia nervosa. She is currently pursuing a clinical research career as an NIMH T32 Postdoctoral Fellow for Translational Research in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Columbia University. Dr. Domakonda plans to devote her career to developing novel treatments to target the underlying neural and biological disturbances that may contribute to the persistence of eating disorder symptoms in children and adolescents.
Mihaela Stefan, MA
Lab Manager, Research Associate
Mihaela received her BA in communication sciences with a concentration in linguistics and languages from the University of Bucharest, followed by an MA from SNSPA Bucharest in communication sciences. Her main interests were in language and information processing and their contribution to human communication. After graduating from university, Mihaela joined a group that founded one of the first media monitoring agencies in Romania and developed expertise in content-analysis methods and research software (most of the social and psychological research had been previously discouraged due to the political context). She came to the USA in 2007 and began volunteering at NYSPI in 2010 and learning about neuroimaging research, specifically MRI data acquisition and processing. Mihaela began working with Dr. Marsh in 2012 and is now manager of the Cognitive Development and Neuroimaging lab. She oversees all MRI data acquisition, data storage, and anatomical image processing for the lab, contributing to the scientific research as well. She also trains and coordinates the activities for our volunteers and other research assistants.
David Pagliaccio, PhD
Dr. David Pagliaccio received a PhD in neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis. His graduate work with Dr. Deanna Barch focused on the effects of stress and stress-system genes on brain structure and function in children with early-onset depression. During his postdoctoral fellowship with Drs. Daniel Pine and Ellen Leibenluft, Dr. Pagliaccio continued fMRI research to examine the neural underpinnings of pediatric anxiety and irritability. As a project manager with the Marsh Lab, he is using neuroimaging to explore alterations in brain circuitry and functioning relating to impulsive-compulsive behaviors, learning disorders, and other pediatric pathologies.
Sophie Schiff, BA
Sophie Schiff graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2014 with a BA in cognitive science. As an undergraduate, Sophie worked as a research assistant in a psychology lab studying neuroeconomics. After two years at Horizon Media, in 2016, Sophie began as a volunteer in Dr. Marsh's lab assisting with study coordination and data analysis. In her current role, Sophie coordinates the ongoing pediatric and adult fMRI studies on OCD and is involved in the collection, processing, and analysis of neuroimaging data for Dr. Marsh's ongoing projects. Sophie is interested in studying how to utilize neuroimaging to understand anxiety disorders and to better understand the effect of current therapies on brain function. Sophie plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.
Martine Fontaine, BS
Martine obtained a BA in psychology from Paul Valéry University of Montpellier, where she also completed the first year of a MA in clinical psychology and mental health. She began training at the Institute of Family Therapy in France before moving to the US. Martine began volunteering for Dr. Marsh in 2011 and learning neuroimaging techniques. She is now responsible for acquiring multi-modal imaging data from our research participants with bulimia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and healthy control participants. She is also responsible for processing the anatomical data acquired for these participants. Martine is currently expanding her knowledge of computerized brain models by beginning an introduction to FreeSurfer (a software program). These diverse experiences are allowing Martine to explore her research interests prior to pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology.
Lauren Thomas, EdM, NCSP
Lauren graduated from the George Washington University in 2012 with a BA in psychology and a secondary degree in business administration. As an undergraduate, Lauren was a research assistant in the Health Cognitions and Behavior Lab, and studied college students' thoughts and beliefs about health issues (e.g., skin cancer). Lauren went on to graduate from Teachers College in 2015 with an EdM in school psychology and a MA in educational psychology: schooling. She now works as a research assistant and coordinates Dr. Amy Margolis's research studies, which investigate learning disabilities in children.
Past Lab Members
Emily Steinberg, BA
Emily graduated from the University of Michigan in 2015 with a BA in psychology. Emily first joined NYSPI as a volunteer at the Pediatric Anxiety and Mood Research Clinic (PAMRC), where she worked on a study exploring antibiotic augmentation to SRI medication for youth with treatment-resistant OCD. Emily spent two years as coordinator of Dr. Marsh's research studies, where she developed a particular interest in examining post-treatment changes in the neural circuits implicated in pediatric OCD, as well as family factors that may influence children's treatment trajectories. Emily is currently pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology at Fordham University.
Kate Terranova, BA
Kate graduated from George Washington University in 2012 with a BA in psychology. In our lab, Kate coordinated an NIMH multimodal imagining study of adolescents with bulimia nervosa. She is now a third-year graduate student at Fordham University's Counseling PhD Program. She has a continued interest in eating disorders and has chosen to focus her master's thesis research on women's recovery from bulimia.
Cyr M, Kopala-Sibley DC, Lee S, Chen C, Stefan M, Fontaine M, Terranova K, Berner LA, Marsh R. Reduced Inferior and Orbital Frontal Thickness in Adolescent Bulimia Nervosa Persists Over Two-Year Follow-Up, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 56 (10): 866-874. e7, Oct 2017 View PDF
Margolis A, Davis K, Pao LS, Lewis A, Yang X, Tau GZ, Wang Z, Marsh R. Verbal-spatial IQ discrepancies impact brain activation associated with the resolution of cognitive conflict. Developmental Science. Feb 2017; doi: 10.1111/desc.12550. [Epub ahead of print]
Cyr M, Wang Z, Tau GZ, Zhao G, Friedl E, Stefan M, Terranova K, Marsh R. Reward-Based Spatial Learning in Teens With Bulimia Nervosa, Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 55 (11): 962-971. e3, Nov 2016 View PDF
Marsh R, Tau GZ, Wang Z, Huo Y, Liu G, Packard MJ, Peterson BS, Simpson HB. Reward-based spatial learning in unmedicated adults with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, American Journal of Psychiatry, 172 (4): 383-92, April 2015. View PDF
Horga G, Maia TV, Marsh R, Tau G, Graniello B, Wang Z, Hao X, Xu Z, Packard M, Peterson, BS. Changes in corticostriatal connectivity during reinforcement learning in humans, Human Brain Mapping, 36 (2): 793-803, Feb 2015. View PDF
Marsh R, Horga G, Parashar N, Wang Z, Peterson BS, Simpson HB. Altered activation in fronto-striatal circuits during sequential processing in unmedicated adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Biological Psychiatry, 2013 Mar 12. pii: S0006-3223(13)00147-9. View PDF
Marsh R, Horga G, Wang Z, Klahr K, Berner L, Walsh BT, Peterson BS. An FMRI study of self-regulatory control and conflict resolution in adolescents with bulimia nervosa. American Journal of Psychiatry, 168 (11) 1210-20, Nov 2011. View PDF
Marsh R, Hao X, Xu D, Wang Z, Packard M, Duan Y, Lui J, Kangarlu A, Martinez D, Garcia F, Tau GZ, Yu S, Peterson BS. A virtual reality-based fMRI study of reward-based spatial learning. Neuropsychologia, 48(10) 2912-21, Aug 2010. View PDF
Marsh R, Steinglass JE, Gerber AJ, O’Leary KG, Wang z, Walsh BT, Peterson BS. Deficient activity in the neural systems that mediate self-regulatory control in Bulimia Nervosa. Archives of General Psychiatry, 66/1: 1-13, Jan 2009. View PDF
Marsh R, Gerber AJ, Peterson BS. Neuroimaging Studies of Normal Brain Development & Their Relevance for Understanding Childhood Neuropsychiatric Disorders. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 47/11: 1233-51, Nov 2008. View PDF