Sendi Receives FNNR Mini-Grant

<p>Mohammad S.E. Sendi</p>

Mohammad S.E. Sendi

Mohammad Sadegh Eslampanah Sendi has received a mini-grant from the Foundation for Neurofeedback and Neuromodulation Research for his research on post-traumatic stress disorder. This award will be presented at the International Society for Neuroregulation and Research Conference, which will be held June 25-27 in a virtual format.

More than half of individuals in the United States experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime. In the general population, the lifetime prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been estimated to be 5-10 percent. However, levels of PTSD were as high as 46 percent in highly traumatized populations such as the underserved minority population being studied as part the Grady Trauma Project (GTP). Trauma-focused therapy is the recommended treatment for PTSD, but 30-50 percent of patients do not respond. Trauma-focused therapies also often involve significant writing and worksheet-based homework, which could be a barrier for people with low education and/or literacy. Thus, the development of alternative treatment approaches to PTSD is warranted.  

There is significant interest in using focal neuromodulation, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), to induce functional brain changes as a potential treatment for psychiatric disorders. TMS is a safe and non-invasive treatment that uses magnetic fields to induce a small electric current in specific brain regions. TMS is an approved treatment for pharmaco-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and most studies have demonstrated positive treatment effects of TMS for MDD and PTSD.  

Despite the significant impact of TMS in treating PTSD patients, an unresolved issue is that the response varies across individuals. Notably, the mechanism of TMS for PTSD is mainly unknown, hindering the advancement of this treatment. Optimizing TMS protocol and individualizing TMS treatment parameters can substantially benefit patient-specific therapy of PTSD and restore function and induce longer-lasting results. Quantifying TMS’ functional and neurophysiological effects and their link to symptom severity change is an essential step towards understanding TMS’ neural mechanisms and developing more effective and individualized TMS therapies. A previous study reported changes in EEG alpha power by TMS in PTSD. Additionally, a recent study has proved that EEG signals recorded from eight channels (including FP1 and FP2) can predict the clinical response of 5-Hz TMS in PTSD. However, preparing EEG recording instruments is a huge burden for daily use in a clinical setting, such as post-TMS EEG recording. In this proposal, Sendi and his colleagues aim to leverage an ongoing TMS treatment study for PTSD conducted as part of the GTP and add portable EEG assessments prior to, during, and after the TMS treatment and explore how TMS changes the EEG signal in the patients with PTSD. 

Sendi is a Ph.D. student double-majoring in biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering (ECE) at Georgia Tech. He is being mentored on this project by Sanne van Rooij, an assistant professor in the Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Emory University; Jeffrey G. Malins, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Georgia State University; and Vince Calhoun, who is the director of the Center for Translational Research in Neuroimaging and Data Science, a center based at Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, and Emory University.

In the last two years, Sendi has received the following awards: International Society for Magnetic Resonance Merit Award: magna cum laude, 2021; Alzheimer's Association international conference travel fellowship, 2021; Educational Stipend Award, International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 2021; 3MT presentation finalist, Georgia Tech, 2021; 3MT presentation finalist (rank #3), International Symposium on Biomedical Imaging, 2021; Blended Online Learning Design (BOLD) Graduate Fellowship, Georgia Tech, 2021; Global Young Scientists Summit (GYSS) Award, 2021; and Bobby Jones Biomedical Engineering Award (Emory Laney Graduate School), 2019.

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School of Electrical and Computer Engineering