The SCAN Center at Stony Brook University
The SCAN (Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience) Center is an NSF-funded Provostial facility devoted to studying the structure and function of the human brain. It is equipped with a state-of-the-art Siemens Trio 3 Tesla MRI scanner, installed in the spring of 2009, and housed in its own building located near the Life Sciences Building. Other instruments associated with the SCAN Center include an MR-compatible eye-tracking system, a MR-compatible coil for noninvasive transcranial magnetic stimulation of the brain, and physiological monitoring systems.
Researchers from West Campus, the Medical School, the School of Engineering, and from Brookhaven National Laboratory use the scanner to address a number of different fundamental questions in neuroimaging, as illustrated with these examples below.
In Social Neuroscience, researchers are studying how individual differences in the experience of loneliness or social stress reflect underlying differences in relevant neural circuits, and how these activation differences can be predicted by a person's unique life history and genetic predispositions. Others investigate how activation of reward circuits through positive social interactions with one's spouse acts to reduce nicotine cravings in heavy smokers. Studies on Autism are in the planning stages.
In Cognitive Neuroscience, researchers are investigating the fascinating phenomenon of post-operative cognitive deficits, which affect 20-30% of patients undergoing cardio-pulmonary bypass, major thoracic and vascular procedures, by comparing chemical signatures of metabolic activity in the hippocampus (a key brain region involved in learning and memory) before and after surgery. Others conduct studies of the brain basis of working memory, the control of voluntary behavior, and of impulsive decision-making
In Affective Neuroscience, investigators are conducting a study of generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. This study will examine neural activity as a function of diagnosis, and will quantify excitatory and inhibitory components of emotional processing, with the goal of articulating better models of emotional processing abnormalities in both anxiety and depression. Other studies address the interaction of attention and emotion, and the neurogenetics of emotion regulation.
Other activities include Research & Development, such as the development to conduct parallel recording and noninvasive brain stimulation experimental designs. The SCAN Center is also available for Teaching & Training purposes, and supports both funded and non-funded research projects related to its core mission of Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience. It is available to off-campus researchers, and has been featured in a documentary on the Discovery Channel.