Jingshan Chen

Tel Aviv University, Tell Afif, Tel Aviv, Israel

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Publications (15)122.77 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS) is the most common genetic syndrome associated with schizophrenia. The catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene is located in the obligatory deletion region, and possible associations between COMT variants and neuropsychiatric manifestations in 22q11.2DS have been reported. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the effect of COMT hemizygosity and molecular haplotypes on gene expression and enzyme activity and its association with psychotic symptoms in 22q11.2DS. Lymphoblast samples were drawn from 53 individuals with 22q11.2DS and 16 typically developing control subjects. We measured COMT messenger (m)RNA and protein expression and enzyme activity using standard procedures. The presence of a psychotic disorder and cognitive deficits were also evaluated using structured testing. There was an approximately 50% reduction in COMT mRNA, protein, and enzyme activity levels in 22q11.2DS samples. Haplotype analysis revealed clear phenotypic differences between various Val-containing haplotypes on COMT-3' untranslated region extended mRNA, soluble COMT and membrane-bound proteins, and enzyme activity. The G variant of rs165599, a 3' untranslated region single nucleotide polymorphism, was associated with low levels of COMT expression and with the presence of psychosis and lower performance IQ scores in our 22q11.2DS sample. Finally, we demonstrate that the COMT rs74745580 "T" mutation is associated with absent soluble COMT expression and very low COMT activity in two 22q11.2DS individuals. Our findings confirm a robust effect of COMT hemizygosity on COMT activity and show complex interactions of variants within the COMT gene that influence COMT biology and confound conclusions based on associations with the Val158Met genotype alone.
    Biological psychiatry 08/2013; · 8.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Attention is the capacity to flexibly orient behaviors and thoughts towards a goal by selecting and integrating relevant contextual information. The dorsal cingulate (dCC) and prefrontal (PFC) cortices play critical roles in attention. Evidence indicates that catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) modulates dopaminergic tone in the PFC and dCC. In this study, we explored the effect of tolcapone, a CNS penetrant COMT inhibitor that increases cortical dopamine levels, on brain activity during a Variable Attentional Control (VAC) task. We performed a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, counter-balanced trial with tolcapone (Tasmar, tablets, 100 mg three times a day for 1 day and then 200 mg three times a day for 6 days; ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT00044083). The study was conducted in the Clinical Center of the National Institute of Mental Health from 2005 to 2009. Twenty healthy volunteers (11 males; mean age = 32.7 years) with good imaging and performance data on both arms of the study were investigated. Participants underwent 3T blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while performing the event-related VAC task, which varies attention over three levels of load: LOW, INT (intermediate), and HIGH. Changes in behavioral data and individual contrast images were analyzed using ANOVA with drug and task load as co-factors. There was a significant main effect of increasing task load, with resulting decreased accuracy and increased reaction time. While there was no significant effect of tolcapone on these behavioral measures, the neuroimaging data showed a significant effect on load-related changes in dCC, with significantly lower dCC activation on tolcapone compared with placebo. Further, neural activity in dCC correlated positively with COMT enzyme activity (i.e., lower COMT activity and presumably more dopamine was associated with lower activation in dCC, i.e., more efficient information processing). Our results show that pharmacological reduction of COMT activity modulates the engagement of attentional mechanisms, selectively enhancing the efficiency of dCC processing in healthy volunteers, reflected as decreased activity for the same level of performance.
    CNS Drugs 06/2013; · 4.38 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cognitive functioning differs between males and females, likely in part related to genetic dimorphisms. An example of a common genetic variation reported to have sexually dimorphic effects on cognition and temperament in humans is the Val/Met polymorphism in catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT). We tested male and female wild-type mice ((+/+)) and their COMT knockout littermates ((+/-) and (-/-)) in the five-choice serial reaction time task (5CSRTT) to investigate the effects of sex, COMT genotype, and their interactions with environmental manipulations of cognitive functions such as attention, impulsivity, compulsivity, motivation, and rule-reversal learning. No sex- or COMT-dependent differences were present in the basic acquisition of the five-choice serial reaction time task. In contrast, specific environmental manipulations revealed a variety of sex- and COMT-dependent effects. Following an experimental change to trigger impulsive responding, the sexes showed similar increases in impulsiveness, but males eventually habituated whereas females did not. Moreover, COMT knockout mice were more impulsive compared with wild-type littermates. Manipulations involving mild stress adversely affected cognitive performance in males, and particularly COMT knockout males, but not in females. In contrast, following amphetamine treatment, subtle sex by genotype and sex by treatment interactions emerged primarily limited to compulsive behavior. After repeated testing, female mice showed improved performance, working harder and eventually outperforming males. Finally, removing the food-restriction condition enhanced sex and COMT differences, revealing that overall, females outperform males and COMT knockout males outperform their wild-type littermates. These findings illuminate complex sex- and COMT-related effects and their interactions with environmental factors to influence specific executive cognitive domains.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 11/2012; · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Regulation of dopamine neurotransmission is essential for cognitive processes. In humans and rodents, the relationship between dopamine signaling and cognitive performance is described as a dose-dependent, inverted-U curve whereby excess or insufficiency of dopamine in prefrontal cortex has detrimental effects. Previous studies have indicated that prefrontal dopamine levels are associated with genetic variation in catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), a regulatory enzyme that controls dopamine availability. Furthermore, smokers who carry the high-activity COMT-Val allele are more prone to cognitive deficits and have an increased risk of smoking relapse. The present study employed transgenic mice expressing the human COMT-Val variant to determine the effects of the high-activity COMT allele on electrophysiological markers, including the P20, N40, and P80 components of the auditory event-related potential, as well as baseline and auditory event-related power and phase-synchrony in theta and gamma ranges. We also examined the effects of nicotine on these measures to investigate the potential effects of smoking on COMT-mediated electrophysiological activity. COMT-Val-tg mice displayed increased N40 latency and decreased P80 amplitude as well as reduced baseline theta and gamma power. Nicotine increased P20 and P80 amplitudes, decreased N40 amplitude, increased P20 and N40 latencies, and reduced P80 latency. Nicotine also increased the event-related power and phase synchrony, yielding an increase in signal-to-noise ratio across theta and gamma ranges. COMT activity specifically alters long-latency components of the event-related response. Nicotine restored normal event-related activity among COMT-Val-tg mice, suggesting one mechanism through which nicotine may normalize cognitive function among people with the high-activity allele.
    Behavioral Neuroscience 02/2012; 126(2):332-43. · 2.63 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is a key enzyme for inactivation and metabolism of catechols, including dopamine, norepinephrine, caffeine, and estrogens. It plays an important role in cognition, arousal, pain sensitivity, and stress reactivity in humans and in animal models. The human COMT gene is associated with a diverse spectrum of human behaviors and diseases from cognition and psychiatric disorders to chronic pain and cancer. There are two major forms of COMT proteins, membrane-bound (MB) COMT and soluble (S) COMT. MB-COMT is the main form in the brain. The cellular distribution of MB-COMT in cortical neurons remains unclear and the orientation of MB-COMT on the cellular membrane is controversial. In this study, we demonstrate that MB-COMT is located in the cell body and in axons and dendrites of rat cortical neurons. Analyses of MB-COMT orientation with computer simulation, flow cytometry and a cell surface enzyme assay reveal that the C-terminal catalytic domain of MB-COMT is in the extracellular space, which suggests that MB-COMT can inactivate synaptic and extrasynaptic dopamine on the surface of presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons. Finally, we show that the COMT inhibitor tolcapone induces cell death via the mechanism of apoptosis, and its cytotoxicity is dependent on dosage and correlated with COMT Val/Met genotypes in human lymphoblastoid cells. These results suggest that MB-COMT specific inhibitors can be developed and that tolcapone may be less hazardous at low doses and in specific genetic backgrounds.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 10/2011; 286(40):34752-34760. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is a key enzyme for inactivation and metabolism of catechols, including dopamine, norepinephrine, caffeine, and estrogens. It plays an important role in cognition, arousal, pain sensitivity, and stress reactivity in humans and in animal models. The human COMT gene is associated with a diverse spectrum of human behaviors and diseases from cognition and psychiatric disorders to chronic pain and cancer. There are two major forms of COMT proteins, membrane-bound (MB) COMT and soluble (S) COMT. MB-COMT is the main form in the brain. The cellular distribution of MB-COMT in cortical neurons remains unclear and the orientation of MB-COMT on the cellular membrane is controversial. In this study, we demonstrate that MB-COMT is located in the cell body and in axons and dendrites of rat cortical neurons. Analyses of MB-COMT orientation with computer simulation, flow cytometry and a cell surface enzyme assay reveal that the C-terminal catalytic domain of MB-COMT is in the extracellular space, which suggests that MB-COMT can inactivate synaptic and extrasynaptic dopamine on the surface of presynaptic and postsynaptic neurons. Finally, we show that the COMT inhibitor tolcapone induces cell death via the mechanism of apoptosis, and its cytotoxicity is dependent on dosage and correlated with COMT Val/Met genotypes in human lymphoblastoid cells. These results suggest that MB-COMT specific inhibitors can be developed and that tolcapone may be less hazardous at low doses and in specific genetic backgrounds.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 08/2011; 286(40):34752-60. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neuregulin1 (NRG1)-ErbB signaling has been implicated in the pathogenesis of cancer and schizophrenia. We have previously reported that NRG1-stimulated migration of B lymphoblasts is PI3K-AKT1dependent and impaired in patients with schizophrenia and significantly linked to the catechol-o-methyltransferase (COMT) Val108/158Met functional polymorphism. We have now examined AKT1 activation in NRG1-stimulated B lymphoblasts and other cell models and explored a functional relationship between COMT and AKT1. NRG1-induced AKT1 phosphorylation was significantly diminished in Val carriers compared to Met carriers in both normal subjects and in patients. Further, there was a significant epistatic interaction between a putatively functional coding SNP in AKT1 (rs1130233) and COMT Val108/158Met genotype on AKT1 phosphorylation. NRG1 induced translocation of AKT1 to the plasma membrane also was impaired in Val carriers, while PIP(3) levels were not decreased. Interestingly, the level of COMT enzyme activity was inversely correlated with the cells' ability to synthesize phosphatidylserine (PS), a factor that attracts the pleckstrin homology domain (PHD) of AKT1 to the cell membrane. Transfection of SH-SY5Y cells with a COMT Val construct increased COMT activity and significantly decreased PS levels as well as NRG1-induced AKT1 phosphorylation and migration. Administration of S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) rescued all of these deficits. These data suggest that AKT1 function is influenced by COMT enzyme activity through competition with PS synthesis for SAM, which in turn dictates AKT1-dependent cellular responses to NRG1-mediated signaling. Our findings implicate genetic and functional interactions between COMT and AKT1 and may provide novel insights into pathogenesis of schizophrenia and other ErbB-associated human diseases such as cancer.
    PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(5):e10789. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Organized neuronal firing is crucial for cortical processing and is disrupted in schizophrenia. Using rapid amplification of 5' complementary DNA ends in human brain, we identified a primate-specific isoform (3.1) of the ether-a-go-go-related K(+) channel KCNH2 that modulates neuronal firing. KCNH2-3.1 messenger RNA levels are comparable to full-length KCNH2 (1A) levels in brain but three orders of magnitude lower in heart. In hippocampus from individuals with schizophrenia, KCNH2-3.1 expression is 2.5-fold greater than KCNH2-1A expression. A meta-analysis of five clinical data sets (367 families, 1,158 unrelated cases and 1,704 controls) shows association of single nucleotide polymorphisms in KCNH2 with schizophrenia. Risk-associated alleles predict lower intelligence quotient scores and speed of cognitive processing, altered memory-linked functional magnetic resonance imaging signals and increased KCNH2-3.1 mRNA levels in postmortem hippocampus. KCNH2-3.1 lacks a domain that is crucial for slow channel deactivation. Overexpression of KCNH2-3.1 in primary cortical neurons induces a rapidly deactivating K(+) current and a high-frequency, nonadapting firing pattern. These results identify a previously undescribed KCNH2 channel isoform involved in cortical physiology, cognition and psychosis, providing a potential new therapeutic drug target.
    Nature medicine 06/2009; 15(5):509-18. · 27.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The COMT (catechol-O-methyltransferase) gene has been linked to a spectrum of human phenotypes, including cognition, anxiety, pain sensitivity and psychosis. Doubts about its clinical impact exist, however, because of the complexity of human COMT polymorphism and clinical variability. We generated transgenic mice overexpressing a human COMT-Val polymorphism (Val-tg), and compared them with mice containing a null COMT mutation. Increased COMT enzyme activity in Val-tg mice resulted in disrupted attentional set-shifting abilities, and impaired working and recognition memory, but blunted stress responses and pain sensitivity. Conversely, COMT disruption improved working memory, but increased stress responses and pain sensitivity. Amphetamine ameliorated recognition memory deficits in COMT-Val-tg mice but disrupted it in wild types, illustrating COMT modulation of the inverted-U relationship between cognition and dopamine. COMT-Val-tg mice showed increased prefrontal cortex (PFC) calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) levels, whereas COMT deficiency decreased PFC CaMKII but increased PFC CaMKKbeta and CaMKIV levels, suggesting the involvement of PFC CaMK pathways in COMT-regulated cognitive function and adaptive stress responses. Our data indicate a critical role for the COMT gene in an apparent evolutionary trade-off between cognitive and affective functions.
    Journal of Neuroscience 09/2008; 28(35):8709-23. · 6.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neuregulin 1 (NRG1) is essential for the development and function of multiple organ systems, and its dysregulation has been linked to diseases such as cancer and schizophrenia. Recently, altered expression of a novel isoform (type IV) in the brain has been associated with schizophrenia-related genetic variants, especially rs6994992 (SNP8NRG243177). Here we have isolated and characterized full-length NRG1 type IV cDNAs from the adult and fetal human brain and identified novel splice variants of NRG1. Full-length type IV spans 1.8 kb and encodes a putative protein of 590 amino acids with a predicted molecular mass of approximately 66 kDa. The transcript consists of 11 exons with an Ig-like domain, an epidermal growth factor-like (EGF) domain, a beta-stalk, a transmembrane domain, and a cytoplasmic "a-tail," placing it in the beta1a NRG1 subclass. NRG1 type IV was not detected in any tissues except brain and a putative type IV NRG1 protein of 66 kDa was similarly brain-specific. Type IV transcripts are more abundantly expressed in the fetal brain, where, in addition to the full-length structure, two novel type IV variants were identified. In vitro luciferase-reporter assays demonstrate that the 5' promoter region upstream of type IV is functional, with differential activity associated with genetic variation at rs6994992, and that promoter competition may impact on type IV expression. Our data suggest that type IV is a unique brain-specific NRG1 that is differentially expressed and processed during early development, is translated, and its expression regulated by a schizophrenia risk-associated functional promoter or single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP).
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 09/2007; 282(33):24343-51. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Prefrontal cortical dopamine (DA) regulates various executive cognitive functions, including attention and working memory. Efforts to enhance prefrontal-related cognition, which have focused on catecholaminergic stimulant drugs, have been unsatisfactory. Recently, the demonstration that a functional polymorphism in the catecholamine-O-methyltransferase (COMT) gene impacts prefrontal cognition raises the possibility of a novel pharmacological approach for the treatment of prefrontal lobe executive dysfunction. To explore in a proof of concept study the effects of tolcapone, a CNS penetrant specific COMT inhibitor, we performed a randomized, double blind, placebo controlled, and crossover design of this drug in normal subjects stratified by COMT (val158met) genotype. COMT enzyme activity was determined in peripheral blood. Forty-seven normal volunteers with no family history of psychiatric disorders underwent neuropsychological testing and 34 of those subjects underwent physiological measurement of prefrontal information processing assessed by blood oxygen level-dependent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We found significant drug effects on measures of executive function and verbal episodic memory and a significant drug by genotype interaction on the latter, such that individuals with val/val genotypes improved, whereas individuals with met/met genotypes worsened on tolcapone. fMRI revealed a significant tolcapone-induced improvement in the efficiency of information processing in prefrontal cortex during a working memory test. This study demonstrates enhancement of prefrontal cortical function in normal human subjects with a nonstimulant drug having COMT inhibitory activity. Our results are consistent with data from animal studies and from computational models of the effects of selective enhancement of DA signaling in the prefrontal cortex.
    Neuropsychopharmacology 06/2007; 32(5):1011-20. · 8.68 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Linkage, association and postmortem studies have implicated regulator of G-protein signaling 4 (RGS4), which negatively modulates signal transduction at G-protein-coupled receptors, as a candidate schizophrenia susceptibility gene. We compared RGS4 mRNA expression in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), between normal controls and patients with schizophrenia in two independent cohorts (>100 subjects each) (the CBDB/NIMH Collection and the Stanley Array Collection), and in the hippocampus in the CBDB/NIMH Collection. We also examined the effects of the four previously identified putative RGS4 risk SNPs (rs10917670, rs951436, rs951439, rs2661319) on RGS4 expression levels in these cohorts. As dopamine signaling is linked to RGS4 expression and there is evidence for statistical epistasis between COMT Val158Met polymorphism and RGS4 alleles, we also examined relationships between the COMT Val158Met genotype and RGS4 expression in the DLPFC. We did not detect a difference in RGS4 expression levels between schizophrenic patients (or bipolar disorder patients in the Stanley Collection) and controls and found no significant association between any of the RGS4 risk SNPs and RGS4 expression. However, COMT Val158Met genotype was associated with prefrontal and hippocampal RGS4 mRNA expression in an allele dose-dependent manner, with carriers of the COMT Val allele showing significantly lower expression than heterozygous individuals or subjects homozygous for the Met allele. Consistent with these genotype effects, RGS4 mRNA was inversely correlated with the COMT enzyme activity in the DLPFC. These data suggest that RGS4 mRNA expression is associated with cortical dopamine signaling and illustrate the importance of genetic and/or environmental background in gene expression studies in schizophrenia.
    Human Molecular Genetics 09/2006; 15(18):2804-12. · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Translation of human genetic mutations into genetic mouse models is an important strategy to study the pathogenesis of schizophrenia, identify potential drug targets, and test new drugs for new antipsychotic treatments. Although it is impossible to recapitulate the full spectrum of schizophrenia symptoms in animal models, hypothesis-driven genetic mouse models have been successful in reproducing several schizophrenia-like behaviors and uncovering the roles of specific genes in dopamine and glutamine neurotransmission systems in mediating schizophrenia-like behaviors. Recent discoveries of susceptibility genes for schizophrenia and recognition of cognitive dysfunction as a core feature of schizophrenia and a phenotype of susceptibility for schizophrenia offer opportunities to develop newer genetic mouse models based on susceptibility. This new generation of genetic mouse models could shed light on the etiology of schizophrenia and lead us to new hypotheses, novel diagnostic tools, and more effective therapy.
    Biological Psychiatry 07/2006; 59(12):1180-8. · 9.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) is a key enzyme in the elimination of dopamine in the prefrontal cortex of the human brain. Genetic variation in the COMT gene (MIM 116790) has been associated with altered prefrontal cortex function and higher risk for schizophrenia, but the specific alleles and their functional implications have been controversial. We analyzed the effects of several single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within COMT on mRNA expression levels (using reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction analysis), protein levels (using Western blot analysis), and enzyme activity (using catechol methylation) in a large sample (n = 108) of postmortem human prefrontal cortex tissue, which predominantly expresses the -membrane-bound isoform. A common coding SNP, Val158Met (rs4680), significantly affected protein abundance and enzyme activity but not mRNA expression levels, suggesting that differences in protein integrity account for the difference in enzyme activity between alleles. A SNP in intron 1 (rs737865) and a SNP in the 3' flanking region (rs165599)--both of which have been reported to contribute to allelic expression differences and to be associated with schizophrenia as part of a haplotype with Val--had no effect on mRNA expression levels, protein immunoreactivity, or enzyme activity. In lymphocytes from 47 subjects, we confirmed a similar effect on enzyme activity in samples with the Val/Met genotype but no effect in samples with the intron 1 or 3' SNPs. Separate analyses revealed that the subject's sex, as well as the presence of a SNP in the P2 promoter region (rs2097603), had small effects on COMT enzyme activity. Using site-directed mutagenesis of mouse COMT cDNA, followed by in vitro translation, we found that the conversion of Leu at the homologous position into Met or Val progressively and significantly diminished enzyme activity. Thus, although we cannot exclude a more complex genetic basis for functional effects of COMT, Val is a predominant factor that determines higher COMT activity in the prefrontal cortex, which presumably leads to lower synaptic dopamine levels and relatively deleterious prefrontal function.
    The American Journal of Human Genetics 12/2004; 75(5):807-21. · 11.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Human prefrontal cortical neurons express catechol O-methyltransferase (COMT), an enzyme that inactivates the neurotransmitter dopamine. A functional polymorphism of COMT, Val(108/158) Met, affects prefrontal function, and the high-activity Val allele has been reported to be a genetic risk factor for schizophrenia. We used in situ hybridization histochemistry to measure mRNA levels of COMT in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) of patients with schizophrenia (N=14) and of normal controls (N=15). While the groups did not differ in terms of mean level of COMT mRNA, there was a significantly different laminar pattern of COMT mRNA expression in pyramidal neurons (F=2.68, df=4,108, P <0.04); patients with schizophrenia had relatively lower levels in the superficial (II/III) layers and higher levels in the intermediate/deep (IV/V) layers (P&<0.01), while in controls, the expression was homogeneous across layers. Neither the mean level nor the laminar distribution of COMT mRNA was related to the Val(108/158) Met genotype, suggesting that the feedback regulation of mRNA level is not a compensation for the functional effect of the COMT polymorphism. The disease-related laminar difference of COMT expression may be involved in dysregulation of dopamine signaling circuits in the DLPFC of patients with schizophrenia.
    Neuropsychopharmacology 08/2003; 28(8):1521-30. · 8.68 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
122.77 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2013
    • Tel Aviv University
      Tell Afif, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • 2004–2012
    • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
      • Clinical Brain Disorders Branch
      Bethesda, MD, United States
  • 2010–2011
    • National Institutes of Health
      Maryland, United States