Principal Investigator:Dana Small, PhD, Deputy Director for Research
Deputy Director for Research and Fellow
The John B. Pierce Laboratory
The primary interest of my lab is to use functional neuroimaging techniques in combination with neuropsychological, behavioral, psychophysical, genetic and physiological assessments to understand brain representation of taste, smell, flavor, and feeding in humans. We are particularly interested in understanding the dynamic relationship between brain and obesity. How do the neural circuits governing feeding and flavor preference formation predispose certain individuals to gain weight? How do weight gain and the associated physiological adaptations influence brain function? We are also interested in uncovering the fundamental neural organization of the human gustatory and flavor systems. Our lab is equipped with an fMRI simulator, a fully automated and fMRI compatible olfactometer and gustometer, and a BODPOD for measuring percent body fat. All imaging studies are performed at the Yale MRI Imaging Research Center and PET Center.
We have three ongoing projects. The first is to investigate the role of the amygdala in weight gain susceptibility. The second seeks to understand cognitive and affective influences on central taste processing in humans. The third aims to understand the factors that influence long term flavor preferences and to uncover the neural circuits that underlie flavor preference formation. All projects are with human participants and employ a combination of neuropsychology, neuroimaging, genetics, physiology, and psychophysics. We are also developing a project to understand how exposure to particular types of foods (e.g. artificial sweeteners or high fat foods) influences perceptual and neural responses to food and how these influences may in turn affect intake.
K. Rudenga, R. Sinha, D.M. Small “Acute stress potentiates brain response to milkshake as a function of body weight and chronic stress” International Journal of Obesity (2012) doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.39
M.G. Veldhuizen, D. Douglas, K. Aschenbrenner, D. R. Gitelman, D. M. Small “The anterior insular cortex represents breaches of taste identity expectation” Journal of Neuroscience (2011) 12;31(41): 14735-14744.
D. M. Small, M. D. Gregory, Y. E. Mak, D. Gitelman, M.-M. Mesulam, T. Parrish. “Dissociation of neural representation of intensity and affective valuation in human gestation”. Neuron, (2003) 39: 701-711D.M. Small, M. Jones-Gotman, A. Dagher. “Feeding induced dopamine release in dorsal striatum correlates with meal pleasantness ratings in healthy human volunteers”. Neuroimage, (2003) 19: 1709-1715
Associate Research Scientist
Research Assistant II