Aysenil Belger, PhD, is director of the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, professor and director of Neuroimaging Research in the Department of Psychiatry, and professor in the Department of Psychology at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as well as adjunct associate professor at the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center at Duke University. Her research focuses on translational and interdisciplinary studies of the brain circuits underlying attention, executive function, and emotion processing in the human brain, as well as their breakdown in neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism, schizophrenia, mood disorders, and PTSD.
Dr. Belger combines functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electrophysiological scalp recording (EEG), functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS), experimental psychology, and neuropsychological assessment techniques to explore the behavioral and neurophysiological underpinnings of sensory and cognitive impairments across disorders. Her integrative research has most recently examined electrophysiological and functional changes in children with autism, as well as children, adolescents, and adults at risk for psychosis. Dr. Belger is part of a large interdisciplinary team of investigators conducting multi-institutional studies exploring the impact of early childhood maltreatment on adult brain function, structure, and mental health outcomes.
Recent studies from Dr. Belger's laboratory have demonstrated that parents of children with autism share phenotypic and neurobiological markers associated with aberrant social information processing. Additionally, her lab has demonstrated that abnormal brain electrical activity can be linked to specific cognitive and affective processing impairments in patients with schizophrenia and their unaffected first-degree relatives. She currently examines stress regulation and brain function in adolescence and risk for psychopthology. She eagerly mentors undergraduate, graduate, and medical students, postdoctoral trainees, and junior faculty, and teaches Cognitive Clinical Neuroscience at UNC.