Pediatric Imaging Lab

Location and Contact Information

Posner Lab
1051 Riverside Drive, Unit 74
Herbert Pardes Building
New York, NY 10032
United States

Our research uses brain imaging to study the function and organization of neural circuits in a range of psychiatric disorders.

Our laboratory uses multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to study the organization and function of neural circuits underlying symptoms seen in a range of psychiatric disorders affecting children and adolescents. By combining brain imaging with treatment studies, our research aims to understand the mechanisms underlying symptoms such as impulsivity, inattention, emotional lability, and anxiety. Moreover, we aim to identify how treatments work so that new treatments can be developed that are more targeted and effective than those currently available.

Participate in Research

Lab Members

  • Elizabeth Raffanello, PhD, MPH

    Lab Manager

    Elizabeth received her BA in clinical psychology and community health from Tufts University. She later received an MPH from Yale University in the social and behavioral sciences and her PhD in clinical psychology from the University at Albany, SUNY. Blending her interests in neuropsychology and health psychology, Elizabeth’s dissertation is focusing on emotion regulation in individuals with multiple sclerosis. Elizabeth joined Dr. Posner’s lab in 2014 as a lab manager. She will continue to help supervise psychological assessments when she begins her predoctoral internship in psychology in Fall of 2016.

  • Claudia Lugo-Candelas, PhD

    Assistant Professor of Clinical Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry)

    Claudia Lugo-Candelas, Ph.D., obtained a B.A. from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Dr. Lugo-Candelas joined the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Division as a T32 postdoctoral research fellow, mentored by Drs. Jonathan Posner and Cristiane Duarte. In 2018, she joined the faculty and in 2020 was named the Estelle P. Bender, MD VP&S ’68 and T. Richard Fishbein Scholar in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Lugo-Candelas’ overarching research interest is to better understand the early development of inhibitory control difficulties, particularly within developmental disorders such as ADHD. She uses MRI methodologies including infant neuroimaging to examine how exposures and experiences during the prenatal period place offspring at risk for inhibitory control disorders. She is particularly committed to understanding the exposures and experiences that are most relevant to communities that are underserved and underrepresented, including underprivileged and ethnic and racial minorities.  Her work is funded by the NIH, NARSAD, and Columbia University pilot awards. Most importantly, Dr. Lugo-Candelas strongly believes diversity and equity are indispensable to the development of sound science and public health.  She is an advocate for increasing access to higher education and increasing the representation of racial and ethnic minorities within the STEM fields, psychiatry and neuroscience included. She works with a number of non-profit organizations andserves as a mentor to high school and undergraduate students from communities that are underprivileged and underrepresented in the field.

  • Tamara Sussman, PhD

    Assistant Professor of Clinical Medical Psychology (in Psychiatry)

    Dr. Tamara Sussman is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. She graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree, and from Stony Brook University with a PhD in clinical psychology. While at Stony Brook, she conducted research examining the impact of emotional stimuli on visual perception and associated brain activity in normal function and in anxiety. She also provided treatment for a broad range of disorders, including anxiety, PTSD, ADHD, and depression. During her internship at the Rutgers University Counseling Center, she provided treatment to a diverse group of university students, and received specialized training in the treatment of trauma-related disorders.

  • Yun Wang, PhD

    Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurobiology (in Psychiatry)

    Yun Wang, PhD, joined the Posner Lab as a postdoctoral research fellow after completing her PhD in electrical and computer engineering at Auburn University. Dr. Wang's undergraduate training was in electrical engineering at Central South University in China. Dr. Wang's research interests include multimodal imaging, resting fMRI data analysis, and machine learning.

  • Joel Bernanke, MD

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    Dr. Joel Bernanke, MD, MSc, is a child psychiatrist and postdoctoral research fellow in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. He graduated from Bard College at Simon’s Rock with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and then from the Boston University School of Public Health with a master’s degree in epidemiology. He attended medical school at Weill Cornell Medical College, completed his residency at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and completed his child fellowship at NewYork-Presbyterian. His research uses neuroimaging and machine learning to understand the connections between altered brain structure and psychiatric disorders, such as ADHD.


  • Ellen Kessel, PhD

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    Ellen Kessel, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral fellow in the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.  She completed her undergraduate degree in economics at Columbia University, Ph.D in clinical psychology at Stony Brook University, and child clinical psychology internship at UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Kessel’s research focuses on the broad, nonspecific, and clinically concerning transdiagnostic problem of pediatric irritability; its developmental pathophysiology; how it relates to and can give rise to a broad array of clinical presentations; and the identification and timing of environmental and other contextual factors that influence this transdiagnostic risk. 


  • David Saunders, MD, PhD

    Postdoctoral Research Fellow

    Dr. David Saunders, MD, PhD, is a child psychiatrist and researcher who will join the faculty on July 1, 2021 as an Assistant Professor. He attended medical school at Weill Cornell Medical College and obtained a PhD at Emory, focusing on Buddhist Studies. He completed adult psychiatry residency and child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Yale, in the Solnit Integrated Training Program. At Yale, under Drs. Hedy Kober and James Leckman, he designed and is presently conducting an RCT of Mindfulness-Based ADHD Treatment for Children (R34 AT009887). At Columbia, he is conducting an RCT of a mindfulness-based intervention for substance use disorder in adolescents within the Boricua Youth Study, assessing feasibility and acceptability of the intervention, and examining behavioral and neural mechanisms of cognitive control with task-based fMRI.

  • David Semanek, BA, HCISPP

    Research Technician

    David Semanek received a BA in experimental psychology with a concentration in visual perception from Columbia University in 2005. He recently earned the HealthCare Information Security and Privacy Practitioner certification from (ISC)2. His main professional interests are MRI data acquisition and processing methods as well as research data management and security. David came to NYSPI in 2008 and has worked on a diverse collection of MRI studies covering mood and attention disorders, autism, toxin exposure, infant and childhood development, and both prescription drugs and drugs of abuse. David’s long-term goals focus on the advancement of data management techniques and data exchange for the field of MRI research with an emphasis on maintaining high standards of information security and integrity.

  • Natalie Aw

    Data analyst

    Natalie Aw is a data analyst in the Posner Lab. She has a Bachelors of Science in Electrical Engineering and Economics from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana and a Masters of Science in Electrical Engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in Champaign, Illinois.

  • Susie Hong, BS

    Project Coordinator

    Susie graduated from Binghamton University in 2015 with a BS in integrative neuroscience. Susie first joined NYSPI as a volunteer for Dr. Posner’s lab in 2014. Currently, Susie is responsible for training new research assistants and coordinating Dr. Posner’s research studies, which primarily investigate the underlying neurobiological mechanisms of psychiatric disorders. She is interested in studying and improving the diagnosis and treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.

  • Sarah Pieper, BA

    Research Assistant

    Sarah Pieper is a research assistant in the Posner Lab. She graduated from Smith College in 2018 with a BA in psychology and a minor in education and child study. She has worked with children with developmental disorders in the past and, while at Smith, she worked in a research lab focused on child language acquisition. Those experiences clarified her desire to work in research involving children and their mental health. She is interested in research that investigates the mechanisms of psychiatric disorders and how to effectively treat them in children and adolescents. She plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology in the future.

  • Gabriela Koch da Costa Aguiar Alves, BA

    Research Assistant

    Gabriela graduated from New York University in 2020 with a BA in psychology and a minor in child & adolescent mental health studies. She first joined NYSPI as a volunteer for Dr. Posner’s lab in 2020 and is now a research assistant. She is interested in understanding psychiatric disorders and the environmental and neurological factors that contribute to their emergence in order to better treat and prevent them. She plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology.

  • Elizabeth Bruno, BA

    Research Assistant

    Elizabeth graduated from Pace University in 2020 with a BA in Applied Psychology and Human Relations. She first joined NYSPI as a volunteer for Dr. Posner’s lab in the summers of 2018 and 2019. Her experience as a volunteer quickly sparked new interests and career goals. As a research assistant, she has become especially interested in neuropsychology and research that investigates the relationships between the brain and behavior, along with the development of effective interventions. She plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology in the future.

  • Tonima Rahman, BS

    Research Assistant

Select Publications

  • Claudia Lugo-Candelas, Jiook Cha, Susie Hong, Vanessa Bastidas, Myrna Weissman, William P Fifer, Michael Myers, Ardesheer Talati, Ravi Bansal, Bradley S Peterson, Catherine Monk, Jay A Gingrich, Jonathan Posner. Associations Between Brain Structure and Connectivity in Infants and Exposure to Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors During Pregnancy. JAMA Pediatrics, 2018.

  • Posner J, Cha J, Wang Z, Talati A, Warner V, Gerber A, Peterson BS, Weissman MM. Increased default mode network connectivity in individuals at high familial risk for depression, Neuropsychopharmacology, 2015 Nov 23

  • Biezonski D, Cha J, Steinglass J, Posner J. Evidence for thalamocortical circuit abnormalities and associated cognitive dysfunctions in underweight individuals with anoxeria nervosa. Neuropsychopharmacology, 2015 Oct 14

  • Cha J, Fekete T, Siciliano F, Biezonski D, Greenhill LL, Pliszka S, Blader J, Roy A, Leibenluft E, Posner J. Neural correlates of aggression in medication naive children with ADHD: Multivariate Analysis of Morphometry and Tractography, Neuropsychopharmacology, 2015 Mar; 40: 1717-1725

  • Posner J, Park C, Wang Z. Connecting the dots: A review of resting connectivity MRI studies in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Neuropsychology Review, 2014 Mar 24(1): 3-15

  • Posner J, Hellerstein DJ, Gat I, Mechling A, Klahr K, Wang Z, McGrath P, Stewart JW, Peterson BS. Antidepressants normalize the default mode network in patients with dysthymia. JAMA Psychiatry. 2013 Feb 6:1–10.

  • Posner J, Nagel BJ, Maia TV, Mechling A, Oh M, Wang Z, Peterson BS. Abnormal amygdalar activation and connectivity in adolescents with attention-deficit/hyperactivity-disorder. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. 2011;50:828-837. PMCID: PMC3155780.

  • Posner J, Russell J, Gerber A, Gorman D, Colibazzi T, Yu S, Wang Z, Kangarlu A, Zhu H, Peterson BS. The neurophysiological bases of emotion: an fMRI study of the affective circumplex using emotion-denoting words. Human Brain Mapping. 2009;30:883-995.

  • Posner J, Russell J, Peterson BS. The circumplex model of affect: an integrative approach to affective neuroscience, cognitive development, and psychopathology. Development and Psychopathology. 2005; 17:715-734.