Design, Acquisition & Neuromodulation Laboratories

The Design, Acquisition and Neuromodulation Laboratories leverage optimized MRI protocols and experimental design to assess brain function and dysfunction. This includes the implementation of cutting-edge transcranial magnetic and electrical stimulation approaches to probe and potentially remediate neurocognitive dysfunction within lifespan and clinical populations.


Focus is on the development of data resources and novel experimental techniques to determine the relationship between neurocognitive, developmental, socio-economic, cultural, and lifestyle variables that impact the development of the brain across the lifespan. Central to the development of imaging data resources is a big data philosophy, which focuses on the accumulation of large-scale samples of the community that capture variation among individuals on a range of dimensions, including behavioral, cardiovascular, cognitive and psychiatric. These large sample sizes are achieved through a combination of open data sharing initiatives, which focus on the aggregation of data from laboratories around the world, and large-scale in-house data generation initiatives.  Significant focus is placed on the optimization and standardization of data collection techniques.

Brain Stimulation

A major area of our work is optimization of targeting for brain stimulation approaches, such as transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and determination of their impact on the brain. Complementing observational imaging approaches to understanding human brain function are these brain stimulation approaches, which can temporarily alter patterns of neural activity. When applied repeatedly, they have the potential to correct abnormal patterns of brain activity underlying mental illness.

Current Investigations

  • Promotion of open data sharing through oversight and coordination of the 1000 Functional Connectomes Project and its International Neuroimaging Data-sharing Initiative (INDI).
  • Conduct of the NKI-Rockland Sample initiatives, which are generating and sharing a large-scale multimodal imaging data resource, with deep phenotyping, for the study of human brain organization and biomarker discovery across the lifespan (ages 6-85).
  • Optimization of targeting for brain stimulation methodologies through advanced computational modeling techniques and integration of fMRI.
  • Quantification of the impact of brain stimulation on brain function using a combination of imaging and electrophysiological methodologies.
  • Digitized cognitive assessment development and data pipeline standardization for in-laboratory and ecological momentary assessment.
  • Testing and evaluation of novel chemogenetic approaches using a combination of imaging, electrophysiological and histologic approaches.

Select Publications

Biswal BB, Mennes M, Zuo XN, Gohel S, Kelly C, Smith SM, Beckmann CF, Adelstein JS, Buckner RL, Colcombe S, … Castellanos FX, Milham MP. Toward discovery science of human brain function. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Mar 9;107(10):4734-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0911855107. Epub 2010 Feb 22. PMID: 20176931; PMCID: PMC2842060.

Colcombe SJ, Kramer AF, Erickson KI, Scalf P, McAuley E, Cohen NJ, Webb A, Jerome GJ, Marquez DX, Elavsky S. Cardiovascular fitness, cortical plasticity, and aging. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Mar 2;101(9):3316-21. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0400266101. Epub 2004 Feb 20. PMID: 14978288; PMCID: PMC373255.

Nooner KB, Colcombe SJ, Tobe RH, Mennes M, Benedict MM, Moreno AL, … Castellanos FX, Leventhal BL, Milham MP. The NKI-Rockland Sample: A Model for Accelerating the Pace of Discovery Science in Psychiatry. Front Neurosci. 2012 Oct 16;6:152. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2012.00152. PMID: 23087608; PMCID: PMC3472598.