Michael C Stevens PhD

Associate Professor (Adjunct) of Psychiatry; Director, Clinical Neuroscience and Development Laboratory at Olin Neuropsychiatry Research Center; Director, Child & Adolescent Research, The Institute of Living

Research Interests

Functional connectivity; developmental cognitive neuroscience; identification of disease endophenotypes; neuroimaging brain response to psychiatric treatment


Research Summary

The CNDLAB variously focuses on research of several psychiatric disorders commonly seen in pediatric groups, including Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Conduct Disorder, and Autism Spectrum Disorders. To better understand how abnormalities of brain structure and function may contribute to these illnesses, the laboratory employs functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electrophysiology (event-related potential and time-frequency decomposition analyses), eye tracking techniques, neuropsychological assessment, brain structure analysis (including diffusion tensor imaging), and genetic analysis techniques. The CNDLAB also uses these techniques to study brain structure and function during typical adolescent and young adult maturation.

Extensive Research Description

Currently, Dr. Stevens is responsible for directing a clinical neuroscience research lab at the Olin NRC that uses neuroimaging (both fMRI and structural neuroimaging) and other neurobiological research techniques (EEG, genetics, neuropsychological assessment) to address cognitive and clinical neuroscience questions in childhood psychiatric disorders. Dr. Stevens’ faculty responsibilities all directly involve research, or teaching/administrative duties relevant to this research mission. Dr. Stevens’ research is broadly aimed at better understanding the neurobiological basis of many different neuropsychiatric illnesses. He is principal investigator on projects studying the genetic and neural basis of AD/HD, Conduct Disorder, adolescent depression, and traumatic brain injury, and makes active contributions to multiple other NIH-funded grants of his colleagues. Although he has varied interests in the types of psychopathology he studies, his career activities have been generally focused on understanding developmental aspects of psychopathology. His research program to date can be broadly described as study of neurobiological risk for psychiatric illness, differentiating clinically similar psychiatric disorders that arise in childhood on the neurobiological level (including identifying predictive endophenotypes for genetic association studies), and studying the interaction of neurobiological abnormalities and maturation. In particular, Dr. Stevens has made significant conceptual contributions in the past several years to understanding neural network connectivity in neurodevelopmental psychiatric illnesses and cognitive development. He is positioned to become a leader in the field of developmental cognitive neuroscience by examining trajectories of neural network development, relationships between structural and functional neural network integration, and how abnormalities in systems-level brain connectivity contribute to the pathophysiology of psychiatric illnesses.


Selected Publications

  • Hyatt, CJ, Haney-Caron, E., Stevens, MC. (in press). Cortical thickness and folding deficits in conduct-disordered adolescents. Biological Psychiatry.
  • Pavuluri, M. N., Ellis, J. A., Wegbreit, E., Passarotti, A. M., & Stevens, M. C. (2012). Pharmacotherapy impacts functional connectivity among affective circuits during response inhibition in pediatric mania. Behavioural Brain Research, 226(2), 493-503.
  • Wegbreit, E., Ellis, J. A., Nandam, A., Fitzgerald, J. M., Passarotti, A. M., Pavuluri, M. N., & Stevens, M. C. (2011). Amygdala Functional Connectivity Predicts Pharmacotherapy Outcome in Pediatric Bipolar Disorder. Brain Connectivity, 1(5), 411-422
  • Witt ST, Lovejoy DW, Pearlson GD, Stevens MC (2010). Decreased prefrontal cortex activity in mild traumatic brain injury during performance of an auditory oddball task. Brain Imaging Behav 4(3-4): 232-247.
  • Stevens, M.C. (2009). The developmental cognitive neuroscience of functional connectivity, Brain & Cognition. 70(1):1-12
  • Stevens, M.C., Skudlarski, P., Pearlson, G.D., Calhoun, V.D. (2009) Age-related cognitive gains are mediated by the effects of white matter development on brain network integration. NeuroImage, 48: 738-746.
  • Stevens, M.C., Pearlson, G.D., Calhoun, V.D. (2009). Changes in the interaction of resting state neural networks from adolescence to adulthood. Human Brain Mapping, 30(8): 2356-2366.
  • Stevens, M. C., Kiehl, K. A., Pearlson, G. D., & Calhoun, V. D. (2009). Brain network dynamics during error commission. Hum Brain Mapp, 30(1), 24-37.
  • Stevens, M. C., Pearlson, G. D. & Kiehl, K. A. (2007). An fMRI auditory oddball study of combined-subtype Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Am J Psychiatr, 164, 1-13.
  • Stevens, M. C., Kiehl, K. A., Pearlson, G. D., & Calhoun, V. D. (2007). Functional neural networks underlying response inhibition in adolescents and adults. Behav Brain Res, 181(1), 12-22.

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