Overview, Research, and Publications
The Palestinian Neuroscience Initiative (PNI) was establsihed in 2009 at Al-Quds University as a nucleus for a future Palestinian Neuroscience Institute. It encompasses research and educational programs in cognitive neuroscience, molecular neuroscience, neurogenetics, neuropharmacology and neuropsychiatry.
The PNI has four main aims:
- Build infrastructure for neuroscience research in Palestine.
- Augment research training for a new generation of Palestinian students and researchers in cooperation with elite institutions worldwide.
- Conduct research to understand locally-specific characteristics of neurological and psychiatric disorders in Palestine.
- Raise public awareness of psychiatric and neurological disorders among Palestinians.
Since 2009, the PNI team has trained 70 Palestinian students and researchers; built research units for cognitive neuroscience, behavioral genetics, developmental neuroscience, and molecular neuroscience; engaged the collaboration of 25 local Palestinian neurologists and psychiatrists; established research referral and testing programs at mental health clinics throughout the West Bank; hosted 11 neuroscience colloquium talks and 3 mini-symposia whose speakers included several distinguished neuroscientists, including Nobel Laureates; received prestigious international awards and research grants; and published 12 neuroscience papers in international peer-reviewed journals, with many more papers in preparation.
Through the PNI we will create a viable research institution to host Palestinian and other neuroscientists to pursue research careers in Palestine.
Current research at the Palestinian Neuroscience Initiative (PNI) focuses on:
- Cognitive mechanism of action of SSRI antidepressants in patients with mood and anxiety disorders.
- Defining cognitive, molecular, genetic, and hormonal markers of response to SSRI antidepressants in patients with major depressive disorder.
- Cognitive correlates of clinical depression in Parkinson’s disease and administration of dopaminergic medications.
- Cognitive underpinnings of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and the administration of psychostimulants.
- The cognitive effects of naturally-occurring genetic polymorphisms in dopamine and serotonin genes in healthy subjects.
- The hormonal correlates of cognitive changes during the mentral cycle in normally-cycling healthy women.
- Neurocomputational modeling of the effects of dopamine and serotonin on cognitive function in both healthy and disease populations.
- Translation and validation of psychometric assessment tools for the Palestinian population.
- Herzallah MM, Moustafa AA, et al. “Depression impairs learning whereas anticholinergics impair transfer generalization in Parkinson patients tested on dopaminergic medications.” Cogn Behav Neurol 23(2): 98-105.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20535058)
- Moustafa AA, Keri S, Herzallah MM, et al. “A neural model of hippocampal-striatal interactions in associative learning and transfer generalization in various neurological and psychiatric patients.” Brain Cogn. 2010 74(2): 132-44.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20728258)
- Moustafa AA, Herzallah MM, et al. “Dissociating the cognitive effects of levodopa versus dopamine agonists in a neurocomputational model of learning in Parkinson’s disease.” Neurodegener Dis. 2013;11(2):102-11.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23128796)
- Moustafa AA, Gilbertson MW, Orr SP, Herzallah MM, et al. “A model of amygdala-hippocampal-prefrontal interaction in fear conditioning and extinction in animals.” Brain Cogn. 2012 Nov 16;81(1):29-43.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23164732)
- Herzallah MM, Moustafa AA, Natsheh JY, Danoun OA, et al. “Depression impairs learning, whereas the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, paroxetine, impairs generalization in patients with Major Depressive Disorder.” J Affect Disord. 2013 Nov;151(2):484-92.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23953023)
- Herzallah MM, Moustafa AA, Natsheh JY, Abdellatif SM, et al. “Learning from negative feedback in patients with Major Depressive Disorder is attenuated by SSRI antidepressants.” Front Integr Neurosci. 2013 Sep 23;7:67.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24065894)
- Moustafa AA, Herzallah MM, Gluck MA. “A model of reversal learning and working memory in medicated and unmedicated Parkinson’s disease.” The Journal of Mathematical Psychology. 2014 Apr;59;120:131.(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022249613000813)
- Fera F, Passamonti L, Herzallah MM, Merys CE, Veltri P, Morganti G, Quattrone A, Gluck MA. “Hippocampal bold response during category learning predicts subsequent performance on transfer generalization.” Hum Brain Mapp. 2013 Oct 18. doi: 10.1002/hbm.22389.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24142480)
- Moustafa AA, Gluck MA, Herzallah MM, Myers CE. “The influence of trial order on learning from reward vs. punishment in a probabilistic categorization task: experimental and computational analyses.” Front Behav Neurosci. 2015 Jul 24;9:153. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00153. eCollection 2015(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26257616)
- Amir A, Lee SC, Headley DB, Herzallah MM, and Paré D. “Amygdala signaling during foraging in a hazardous environment.” J Neurosci. 2015 Sep 23;35(38):12994-3005. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0407-15.2015.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26400931)
- Natsheh JY, Shiflett, MW. “The Effects of Methylphenidate on Goal-directed Behavior in a Rat Model of ADHD.” Front Behav Neurosci. 2015 Nov 25;9:326. doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00326. ECollection 2015.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26635568)
- Singh N, Sharpley AL, Emir UE, Masaki C, Herzallah MM, et al. “Effect of the Putative Lithium Mimetic Ebselen on Brain Myo-Inositol, Sleep, and Emotional Processing in Humans.” Neuropsychopharmacology. 2016 Jun;41(7):1768-78. doi: 10.1038/npp.2015.343. Epub 2015 Nov 23 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26593266)