Dr. Yoon's research seeks to discover the brain mechanisms responsible for schizophrenia and to translate this knowledge into the clinic to improve how we diagnose and treat this condition. Towards these ends, Dr. Yoon's group has been developing cutting-edge neuroimaging tools to identify neurobiological abnormalities and test novel systems-level disease models of psychosis and schizophrenia directly in individuals with these conditions.
The group has been particularly interested in the role of neocortical-basal ganglia circuit dysfunction. A working hypothesis is that some of the core symptoms of schizophrenia are attributable to impairments in neocortical function that results in disconnectivity with components of the basal ganglia and dysregulation of their activity. The Yoon Lab has developed new high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging methods to more precisely measure the function of basal ganglia components, which given their small size and location deep within the brain has been challenging. This includes ways to measure the activity of nuclei that store and control the release of dopamine throughout the brain, a neurochemical that is one of the most important factors in the production of psychosis in schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric conditions.