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Nelly Alia-Klein

Research Interests

    Key words: social neuroscience, alcohol abuse and drug addiction, anger, aggressive behavior, Intermittent Explosive Disorder, molecular imaging, neurogenetics.

    My research spans gene-brain-behavior modeling to predict reactive aggression and clinical diagnoses as Intermittent Explosive Disorder. The primary focus is on the prediction of trait anger and aggression particularly in the context of poor self-control. Emotional reactivity can contribute to compromised decision-making and subsequent behavior. My thinking is guided by the hypothesis that imbalance of emotional experience and self-control is a problem underlying virtually all of the diagnostic categories used in psychiatry.

    In the study of multiple mechanisms that underlie violent behavior, we place a special emphasis on the neurochemistry modulating these behaviors and on the reactivity interplay of prefrontal and subcortical brain regions during provocation or other challenge. My tools probe select genotypes and their effects on brain function through application of MRI and PET technology. Behavioral data is obtained both through self-report and through performance in a battery of tests.

    See Also: Neuropsychoimaging web site

Current Projects

  • Exploring neurogenetic mechanisms of aggressive behavior.
    This ongoing project will assess potential contributing factors to violent behavior in persons with Intermittent Explosive Disorder by evaluating their functioning from different levels of understanding. We will assess the effects of specific genetic variation, brain functioning and personality traits as compared to carefully matched controls.
  • Documenting the effects of maltreatment stress on psychophysiology of inhibitory control in children and adolescents
    Here we aim to delineate factors that may contribute to poor inhibitory control in maltreated children and adolescents. The study will obtain multidimensional psychophysiological and psychosocial information along different time periods in the lives of these children and adolescents.
  • (also see Neuropsychoimaging web site)

In the News

Selected Publications

  • Alia-Klein N., Parvaz M.A., Woicik P.A., Konova A., Maloney T., Shumay E., Wang R., Telang F., Biegon A., Wang G.-J., Fowler J.S., Tomasi D., Volkow N.D., Goldstein R.Z.
    Gene x Disease Interaction on Orbitofrontal Gray Matter in Cocaine Addiction.
    Arch Gen Psychiatry. 68(3):283-294 (2011).  PubMed
  • Alia-Klein N, Goldstein RZ, Tomasi D, Woicik PA, Moeller SJ, Williams B, Craig IW, Telang F, Biegon A, Wang GJ, Fowler JS, Volkow ND.
    Neural mechanisms of anger regulation as a function of genetic risk for violence.
    Emotion, 9(3):385-396 (2009).  PubMed
  • Goldstein R.Z., Alia-Klein N., Tomasi D., Honorio Carrillo J., Maloney T., Woicik P.A., Wang R., Telang F., and Volkow N.D.
    Anterior cingulate cortex hypoactivations to an emotionally salient task in cocaine addiction.
    PNAS, Published online before print May 28, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0900491106, (2009).   Full Text .pdf file
  • Alia-Klein N., Goldstein R.Z., Kriplani A., Logan J., Tomasi D., Williams B., Telang F., Shumay E., Biegon A., Craig I., Henn F., Wang G.J., Volkow N.D., and Fowler J.S.
    Brain MAO A Activity Predicts Trait Aggression.
    J Neuroscience, 28(19):5099-5104 (2008).  PubMed
  • Alia-Klein N., Kriplani A., Logan J., Tomasi D., Williams B., Telang F., Goldstein R.Z., Craig I., Wang G.J. and Volkow N.D. and Fowler J.S.
    The MAO A Genotype does not modulate resting brain metabolism in adults.
    Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 164(1):73-76 (2008).  PubMed
  • Alia-Klein N., Goldstein R.Z., Tomasi D., Zhang L., Fagin-Jones S., Telang F., Wang G.J., Fowler J.S. and Volkow N.D.
    What is in a word? “No” versus “Yes” Differentially Engage the Lateral Orbitofrontal Cortex.
    Emotion, 3:649-659 (2007).  PubMed
  • Alia-Klein N., O'Rourke T., Goldstein R.Z. and Malaspina D.
    Insight into illness and adherence to psychotropic medications predict violence severity in a forensic sample.
    Aggressive Behavior, 33:86-96 (2007). PubMed
  • Fowler J.S., Alia-Klein N., Kriplani A., Logan J., Williams B., Zhu W., Craig I.W., Telang F., Goldstein R. and Volkow N.D., Vaska P. and Wang G.-J.
    Evidence that brain MAO A activity does not correspond to MAO A genotype in healthy male subjects.
    Biological Psychiatry, 62(4):355-358 (2007). PubMed
  • Goldstein R.Z., Alia-Klein N., Tomasi D., Zhang L., Cottone L.A., Maloney T., Telang F., Caparelli E.C., Chang L., Ernst T., Samaras D., Squires N.K., and Volkow N.D.
    Is decreased prefrontal cortical sensitivity to monetary reward associated with impaired motivation and self-control in cocaine addiction.
    American Journal of Psychiatry, 164:43-51 (2007). PubMed
  • Goldstein R.Z., Alia-Klein N., Volkow N.D.
    Drugs of Addiction: Neuroimaging in drug addiction. In L Squire, T Albright, F Bloom, F Gage & N Spitzer (Eds.), The New Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. Oxford University Press. (2007).
  • Goldstein R.Z., Tomasi D., Alia-Klein N., Cottone L.A., Zhang L., Telang F., and Volkow N.D.
    Subjective sensitivity to monetary gradients is associated with frontolimbic activation to reward in cocaine abusers.
    Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 87:233-240 (2007). PubMed
  • Goldstein R.Z., Tomasi D., Rajaram S., Cottone L.A., Zhang L., Maloney T., Telang F., Alia-Klein N., and Volkow N.D.
    Role of the anterior cingulate and medial orbitofrontal cortex in processing drug cues in cocaine addiction.
    Neuroscience, 144:1153-1159 (2007). PubMed
  • Tomasi D., Goldstein R.Z., Telang F., Maloney T., Alia-Klein N., Caparelli E.C., and Volkow N.D.
    Thalamo-cortical dysfunction in cocaine abusers: implications in attention and perception.
    Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 155(3):189-201 (2007). PubMed
  • Goldstein R.Z., Alia-Klein N., Cottone L.A. and Volkow N.D.
    Addiction and the Orbitofrontal Cortex.
    In D Zald & S Rauch (Eds.), The Orbitofrontal Cortex. Oxford University Press.(2006).
  • Zhang L., Samaras D., Alia-Klein N., Volkow N.D. and Goldstein R.
    Modeling Neuronal Interactivity using Dynamic Bayesian Networks. 12.
    In Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 18, Y. Weiss, B. Scholkopf, and J. Platt, Eds. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. (2006).
  • Goldstein R.Z., Alia-Klein N., Leskovjan A.C., Fowler J.S., Wang G.-J., Gur R.C., Hitzemann R., and Volkow N.D.
    Anger and depression in cocaine addiction: association with the orbitofrontal cortex.
    Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, 138:13-22 (2005). PubMed
  • Zhang L., Samaras D., Tomasi D., Alia-Klein N., Cottone L.A., Leskovjan L.C., Volkow N.D., and Goldstein R.
    Exploiting Temporal Information in Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Brain Data.
    Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention, pp.679-687 (2005).
  • Malaspina D., Brown A., Goetz D., Alia-Klein N., Harkavy Friedman J., Harlap S. and Fennig S.
    Schizophrenia Risk and paternal age: a potential role de novo mutations in schizophrenia vulnerability genes.
    CNS Spectrum, 7(1):26-32 (2002). PubMed