Director of Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology
Professor of Developmental Psychobiology
BJ Casey is the Sackler Professor and Director of the Sackler Institute at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. She is a pioneer in novel uses of neuroimaging methodologies to examine behavioral and brain development. Her program of research focuses on attention and affect regulation, particularly their development, disruption and neurobiological basis. She has been examining the normal development of brain circuitry involved in attention and behavioral regulation and how disruptions in these brain systems (prefrontal cortex, basal ganglia and cerebellum) can give rise to a number of developmental disorders. Using a mechanistic approach she has dissociated attentional deficits observed across the disorders of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Tourette Syndrome and Childhood Onset Schizophrenia. Further Casey and her colleagues have developed marker tasks that appear to tap the integrity of specific parallel basal ganglia thalamocortical circuits implicated across these disorders and to addiction. Most recently Casey and her colleagues have begun to examine the effects of gene-environment interactions on the development of affect and behavioral regulation and related brain systems.
The specific methodological approaches she uses include both functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) for examining the development of white matter tracts in typically and atypically developing populations. Casey's institute is internationally known for using innovative, noninvasive tools to study human brain development. More recently her work has moved from examining developmental differences with neuroimaging and behavioral measures to examining individual differences in these measures in combination with genetic studies. Specifically, she is examining how common polymorphisms in dopamine and brain-derived neurotrophic factor genes are related to cognitive and neural functioning. This work is heavily grounded in nonhuman primate and transgenic mouse models.