DR. MAYA BLEICH-COHEN (PhD) 

Over the last decade, Dr Bleich-Cohen has been investigating the functional brain circuits involved in various psychiatric illness, with a main focus on schizophrenia, using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Her research has focused on cognitive and affective neural functions.

Dr. Bleich-Cohen is an associated investigator of the #Neuropsychiatry & Neuromodulation, the #Consciousness & Psychopharmacolog, the #Cognitive Resource and Plasticity  and the #Immersive brain-computer interfaces research teams at the TLV-CBF. 

In my previous work I investigated language lateralization in first-episode schizophrenia patients. The results demonstrated a loss of normal functional brain asymmetry in patients, as reflected in diminished lateralization of language-related activation in frontal and temporal regions. This phenomenon was already present during their first episode of psychosis, possibly reflecting developmental brain abnormalities of the illness #(Bleich-Cohen et al, 2009a).

 

In addition, I studied emotional regulation in the same group of patients during the presentation of unpleasant stimuli. This study demonstrated that patients with schizophrenia showed reduced behavioral and neural sensitivity to bizarre facial expressions, which was already present during their first-episode. Possibly, this deficiency was related to disturbed modulations of emotion-related face processing in the fusiform gyrus by the amygdala and prefrontal cortex #(Bleich-Cohen et al., 2009b).

During my PhD, I focused on probing the functional brain circuits of a unique schizo-obsessive subgroup of schizophrenia patients using cognitive tasks sensitive to both schizophrenia and OCD. This further contributed to the neurobiological delineation of these relatively homogeneous subsets of patients (e.g., schizo-obsessive) in the schizophrenia spectrum and to the exploration of the etiological determinants of the disorder. 

In addition I have investigated early onset schizophrenia patients along with their healthy siblings, focusing on the temporal dynamics during the viewing of emotional movies. This paradigm provides a dynamic functional response to a stimulus that resembles 'a real life event'. Furthermore, it enables the extraction of the functional dynamics between brain networks such as emotional and cognitive networks.

 

Over the last two years I have been working with other psychiatric disorders such as ADHD, depression and PMDD. The research on ADHD patients investigates the effectiveness of deep TMS via fMRI. The research on patients suffering from (TRD) treatment resistant depression investigates the efficiency of oral ketamine using fMRI.

Women diagnosed with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) suffer from emotional dysregulation and cognitive, behavioral, and somatic symptoms, which appear regularly in the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, and the available treatment options for this disorder are limited. The current study explores the benefits of a novel therapeutic approach - Neurofeedback (NF) training, which is recently becoming a realistic treatment option for patients diagnosed with various psychiatric disorders.