Graeme F Mason, PhD

Professor of Diagnostic Radiology and of Psychiatry; Director Metabolic Modeling and Director Psychiatric MRS; Director, Neuroimaging Sciences Training Program; Chair, Magnetic Resonance Research Center Protocol Review Committee

Research Interests

Alcoholic Intoxication; Alcoholism; Amino Acids; Brain Mapping; Carbohydrates; Central Nervous System Diseases; Fatty Acids; Substance Withdrawal Syndrome; Tobacco Use Disorder; Mood Disorders; Cocaine-Related Disorders; Alcohol-Induced Disorders, Nervous System; Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action; Physiological Effects of Drugs

Public Health Interests

Alcoholism/Alcohol; Depression; Metabolism; Modeling; Smoking/Tobacco Control

Research Organizations

Diabetes Research Center

Diagnostic Radiology: Bioimaging Sciences: Magnetic Resonance Research Center; Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

Psychiatry: Center for Nicotine and Tobacco Use Research at Yale (CENTURY) | Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Research Clinic

Research Summary

Dr. Mason's research program is focused on the development and evaluation of quantitative hypotheses of brain energy utilization, neurotransmitter metabolism, and function, as well as their application to neuropsychiatric disorders. Dr. Mason's primary methodologies are 1H and 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mathematical modeling of metabolism and enzyme kinetics, and the effects of nicotine and ethanol on GABA, glutamate, and energy metabolism form a primary research focus for his program.

MRS uses technology that is similar to that of standard MRI, but the results are measurements of chemicals instead of images. The chemical measurements are used to measure the effects of variability in function, disease, and pharmacology on the concentrations of brain glutamate, glutamine, GABA and other compounds that are important for brain activity.

Among the most unique capacities of this laboratory is the ability to use MRS to measure metabolic rates with the stable isotope 13C. It is possible to observe the synthesis of glutamate, glutamine, GABA, and other compounds in the intact brain. Measurements of the synthesis of these compounds provide a direct evaluation of neurotransmission in the brain. To plan experiments and evaluate data, mathematical simulations of brain metabolism are used with a user-friendly package called CWave. As theories are developed, new experiments planned, and new data obtained, the models are constantly under revision and expansion.

The goals of the laboratory are to acquire the necessary data and create concrete mathematical expressions of the metabolic regulation of brain metabolism. Such expressions will help understand basic biochemical regulation, aid the development and evaluation of pharmacologic agents, and predict the effects of functional perturbations on the health and activity of the human brain.

Extensive Research Description

Dr. Mason's research integrates quantitative approaches to measure functional brain chemistry and the study of neuropsychiatric disorders. The primary methods used are 1H and 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy, as well as the mathematical assessment of metabolism. Current areas of research include depression, manic-depressive disorder, alcoholism, panic disorder, premenstrual syndrome, and post-partum depression. His primary areas of interest are the effects of alcohol and nicotine dependence on the brain, and to that end, my research programs evaluate acute and chronic effects of alcohol and nicotine on the brain, from the perspectives of neurotransmission, metabolism, adaptation, and vulnerability to dependence.Acute Effects of Ethanol on Human Neurochemistry

Impact of Acute Nicotine on Human Amino Acid Neurotransmission

Effects of Heavy Drinking on Brain Energy Metabolism

Cerebral Metabolism of Ethanol

Selected Publications

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