Graeme Mason, PhD

Professor of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging 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; Carbohydrates; Central Nervous System Diseases; Fatty Acids; Mathematical Computing; 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; Neuroimaging

Public Health Interests

Mental Health; Metabolism; Modeling; Substance Use, Addiction

Research Organizations

Radiology & Biomedical Imaging: Bioimaging Sciences: Magnetic Resonance Research Center; Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy

Psychiatry: Center for Nicotine and Tobacco Use Research at Yale (CENTURY) | Center for the Translational Neuroscience of Alcoholism | Neurocognition, Neurocomputation, and Neurogenetics, Division of | Neuroscience Research Training Program (NRTP) | Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Research Clinic

Diabetes Research Center

Office of Cooperative Research

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 by nuclear magnetic resonance and mass spectrometry. It is possible to observe the synthesis of glutamate, glutamine, GABA, and other compounds in the intact brain, with collaborative studies to examine other systems. Measurements of the synthesis of these compounds provide an assessment of neurotransmission and energetics in the brain. To plan experiments and evaluate data, mathematical simulations of brain metabolism are used with a user-friendly package called CWave, which allows a user to simulate the flow of isotopic labels through metabolism and follow their distribution in various isotopomeric patterns.  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 metabolism in the brain and other systems. 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, with some studies using mass spectrometry, as well as the mathematical assessment of metabolism. Current areas of research include alcohol effects, depression, manic-depressive disorder, alcoholism, panic disorder, premenstrual syndrome, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. His primary areas of interest are the effects of alcohol on the brain, and to that end, his research evaluates acute and chronic effects of alcohol on the brain, from the perspectives of neurotransmission, metabolism, adaptation, and vulnerability to dependence.

Selected Publications

Full List of PubMed Publications

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