Psychiatric Symptoms in Neurology Research Program
Psychiatric symptoms frequently occur in neurological disorders, significantly worsening quality of life and increases disease burden. Our research program aims to identify and target the neural underpinnings of psychiatric symptoms in neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, the ultimate goal being to drive discovery of critically-needed new and effective treatment interventions.
Our interdisciplinary program brings together scientists and clinicians across Psychiatry and Neurology to tackle this important yet understudied research area. In collaboration with the Yale PET Center and Magnetic Resonance Research Center (MRRC), we use cutting-edge brain imaging and analysis methods to identify the mechanisms underlying psychiatric symptoms such as depression and anxiety across neurological disorders.
Drs. Sophie Holmes and Gerard Sanacora have recently received funding from the Michael J Fox Foundation to conduct the first clinical trial of ketamine for the treatment of depression in Parkinson’s disease.
This study is important because depression affects around half of people suffering from Parkinson’s disease, yet current existing antidepressants are not effective and new treatments are urgently needed. Pioneering work conducted at Yale led to the discovery and recent FDA approval of ketamine as a rapid-acting antidepressant and ketamine holds significant potential for effectively treating depression in PD. We will test this for the first time in a controlled, clinical trial. We will also use cutting-edge brain imaging (PET and fMRI) to determine its mechanism of action in Parkinson’s disease.