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Kevin M. Spencer, Ph.D.

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Overview
My basic interest is in understanding how cognitive processes arise from the dynamics of neural systems. In my research I use human electrophysiology (time-frequency EEG measures and event-related brain potentials [ERPs]) and computational modeling to investigate the neural bases of sensory processing, perception, and executive control in healthy individuals as well as schizophrenia patients. I am interested in schizophrenia because it is characterized by neural circuitry abnormalities that may be manifested in particular brain oscillations, and behaviorally by various kinds of cognitive dysfunction (e.g., hallucinations, thought disorder, attention and working memory deficits). With the recent convergence of evidence concerning the neural circuit mechanisms underlying oscillations and neural circuitry abnormalities in schizophrenia, there is an excellent opportunity to testing hypotheses concerning neural circuitry and cognitive function. Bridging these domains promises to lead to new insights into the neural bases of healthy and disordered cognition and to improved treatments for schizophrenia, as well as other neuropsychiatric disorders.

The work in my laboratory (http://ndl.hms.harvard.edu) on oscillatory brain dynamics in schizophrenia currently focuses on two areas: sensory-evoked and perception-related gamma (30-100 Hz) oscillations. In the area of sensory-evoked oscillations we are delineating the factors underlying the deficits in the early auditory- and visual-evoked gamma oscillations and the auditory steady-state response (ASSR) in schizophrenia. Important questions we are examining include the degree to which the deficits in these oscillations reflect intrinsic circuit abnormalities versus dysfunctional input signals to their cortical sources. For instance, the visual-evoked gamma deficit in schizophrenia might reflect the failure of top-down attentional modulation of visual cortex rather than circuit abnormalities within the visual cortex itself. We are also studying the dynamics underlying these oscillation deficits such as modulation by other ongoing rhythms, and whether these deficits involve interactions with other brain areas using source localization methods.

In the area of perception-related oscillations, we discovered a gamma oscillation that is elicited by illusory visual objects and is phase-locked to individuals’ reaction times, suggesting that it indexes processes related to conscious perception. In schizophrenia patients, this response-locked oscillation (RLO) occurs at a lower frequency than in healthy individuals, and its phase-locking aspect is correlated with the patients’ visual hallucination and thought disorder ratings. A major direction of our research is to determine the functional significance of this oscillation in healthy individuals, and to understand the nature of the reduced frequency and clinical symptom correlations in individuals with schizophrenia.

Finally, we are using computational models of neural circuits to examine how the microcircuit abnormalities found in neuropathological studies of schizophrenia patients may relate to the gamma abnormalities found in EEG studies. With a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of brain oscillations and their dysfunction in schizophrenia, it may be possible to design new therapeutics that target particular neural circuit abnormalities and to assess their efficacy.

Mentoring
Available: 10/01/18, Expires: 09/30/19

This project studies the roles of evoked and spontaneous brain oscillations in psychosis. Oscillations in various frequencies bands may be used to test the integrity of neural circuits in neuropsychiatric disorders. Our lab studies brain oscillations in individuals with psychosis in order to understand the relationships between abnormal neural circuitry, cognitive deficits, and clinical symptoms. Projects are available to study spontaneous and evoked oscillations in a variety of tasks. Students will gain experience acquiring and analyzing EEG data, with the goal of producing a first-author paper.

Available: 01/01/15, Expires: 12/31/19

The Neural Dynamics Laboratory at the Jamaica Plain Division of the VA Boston Healthcare System (HMS affiliate) has opportunities available for conducting neurophysiological research on chronic psychosis patients. We examine oscillatory brain dynamics in schizophrenia, with the goal of linking EEG abnormalities to neural microcircuits. For more information, please visit http://ndl.hms.harvard.edu or contact Dr. Kevin Spencer.


Research
The research activities and funding listed below are automatically derived from NIH ExPORTER and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing items. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
  1. I01CX001443 (SPENCER, KEVIN M) Jul 1, 2017 - Jun 30, 2021
    VA
    Spontaneous EEG Activity in Psychosis
    Role: Principal Investigator
  2. R44ES024617 (SPENCER, KEVIN M) Mar 15, 2015 - Mar 31, 2019
    NIH/NIEHS
    Monitoring Pesticide Exposure and Accumulation: An Improved Rapid Identifier for all Pesticide Classes
    Role: Principal Investigator
  3. R43ES024617 (SPENCER, KEVIN M) Mar 15, 2015 - Aug 31, 2015
    NIH/NIEHS
    Monitoring Pesticide Exposure and Accumulation: An improved Rapid Identifier for all Pesticide Classes
    Role: Principal Investigator
  4. R01MH093450 (LEVIN, MARGARET) Jul 26, 2012 - May 31, 2017
    NIH/NIMH
    Electrophysiological Endophenotypes of Schizophrenia in Mouse and Man
    Role: Co-Principal Investigator
  5. R43FD003856 (SPENCER, KEVIN M) Sep 15, 2010 - Sep 14, 2011
    FDA
    A Melamine Field Sensor for Surety Control of Dairy Products
    Role: Principal Investigator

Bibliographic
Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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  1. Zhou TH, Mueller NE, Spencer KM, Mallya SG, Lewandowski KE, Norris LA, Levy DL, Cohen BM, Öngür D, Hall MH. Auditory steady state response deficits are associated with symptom severity and poor functioning in patients with psychotic disorder. Schizophr Res. 2018 Nov; 201:278-286. PMID: 29807805.
    View in: PubMed
  2. Whitford TJ, Jack BN, Pearson D, Griffiths O, Luque D, Harris AW, Spencer KM, Le Pelley ME. Neurophysiological evidence of efference copies to inner speech. Elife. 2017 12 04; 6. PMID: 29199947.
    View in: PubMed
  3. Hirano S, Nakhnikian A, Hirano Y, Oribe N, Kanba S, Onitsuka T, Levin M, Spencer KM. Phase-Amplitude Coupling of the Electroencephalogram in the Auditory Cortex in Schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. 2018 Jan; 3(1):69-76. PMID: 29397081.
    View in: PubMed
  4. Pinheiro AP, Rezaii N, Rauber A, Nestor PG, Spencer KM, Niznikiewicz M. Emotional self-other voice processing in schizophrenia and its relationship with hallucinations: ERP evidence. Psychophysiology. 2017 Sep; 54(9):1252-1265. PMID: 28474363.
    View in: PubMed
  5. Pinheiro AP, Rezaii N, Nestor PG, Rauber A, Spencer KM, Niznikiewicz M. Did you or I say pretty, rude or brief? An ERP study of the effects of speaker's identity on emotional word processing. Brain Lang. 2016 Feb; 153-154:38-49. PMID: 26894680.
    View in: PubMed
  6. Ghorashi S, Spencer KM. Attentional Load Effects on Beta Oscillations in Healthy and Schizophrenic Individuals. Front Psychiatry. 2015; 6:149. PMID: 26539128; PMCID: PMC4610136.
  7. Hirano Y, Oribe N, Kanba S, Onitsuka T, Nestor PG, Spencer KM. Spontaneous Gamma Activity in Schizophrenia. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 Aug; 72(8):813-21. PMID: 25587799; PMCID: PMC4768724.
  8. Clauson SL, Sylvia JM, Arcury TA, Summers P, Spencer KM. Detection of Pesticides and Metabolites Using Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS): Acephate. Appl Spectrosc. 2015 Jul; 69(7):785-93. PMID: 26036870.
    View in: PubMed
  9. Hall MH, Chen CY, Cohen BM, Spencer KM, Levy DL, Öngür D, Smoller JW. Genomewide association analyses of electrophysiological endophenotypes for schizophrenia and psychotic bipolar disorders: a preliminary report. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2015 Apr; 168B(3):151-61. PMID: 25740047; PMCID: PMC4458348.
  10. Hall MH, Jensen JE, Du F, Smoller JW, O'Connor L, Spencer KM, Öngür D. Frontal P3 event-related potential is related to brain glutamine/glutamate ratio measured in vivo. Neuroimage. 2015 May 01; 111:186-91. PMID: 25687595; PMCID: PMC4394009.
  11. del Re EC, Spencer KM, Oribe N, Mesholam-Gately RI, Goldstein J, Shenton ME, Petryshen T, Seidman LJ, McCarley RW, Niznikiewicz MA. Clinical high risk and first episode schizophrenia: auditory event-related potentials. Psychiatry Res. 2015 Feb 28; 231(2):126-33. PMID: 25557063; PMCID: PMC4314407.
  12. Upadhyay UM, Tyler B, Patta Y, Wicks R, Spencer K, Scott A, Masi B, Hwang L, Grossman R, Cima M, Brem H, Langer R. Intracranial microcapsule chemotherapy delivery for the localized treatment of rodent metastatic breast adenocarcinoma in the brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Nov 11; 111(45):16071-6. PMID: 25349381; PMCID: PMC4234553.
  13. Spencer KM. Time to be spontaneous: a renaissance of intrinsic brain activity in psychosis research? Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Sep 15; 76(6):434-5. PMID: 25149349.
    View in: PubMed
  14. Oribe N, Hirano Y, Kanba S, Del Re E, Seidman L, Mesholam-Gately R, Goldstein JM, Shenton M, Spencer KM, McCarley RW, Niznikiewicz M. Progressive reduction of visual P300 amplitude in patients with first-episode schizophrenia: an ERP study. Schizophr Bull. 2015 Mar; 41(2):460-70. PMID: 24914176; PMCID: PMC4332938.
  15. Spencer KM, Ghorashi S. Oscillatory dynamics of Gestalt perception in schizophrenia revisited. Front Psychol. 2014; 5:68. PMID: 24550878; PMCID: PMC3912438.
  16. Oribe N, Hirano Y, Kanba S, del Re EC, Seidman LJ, Mesholam-Gately R, Spencer KM, McCarley RW, Niznikiewicz MA. Early and late stages of visual processing in individuals in prodromal state and first episode schizophrenia: an ERP study. Schizophr Res. 2013 May; 146(1-3):95-102. PMID: 23433503.
    View in: PubMed
  17. Ford JM, Dierks T, Fisher DJ, Herrmann CS, Hubl D, Kindler J, Koenig T, Mathalon DH, Spencer KM, Strik W, van Lutterveld R. Neurophysiological studies of auditory verbal hallucinations. Schizophr Bull. 2012 Jun; 38(4):715-23. PMID: 22368236; PMCID: PMC3406526.
  18. Mears RP, Spencer KM. Electrophysiological assessment of auditory stimulus-specific plasticity in schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry. 2012 Mar 15; 71(6):503-11. PMID: 22277333; PMCID: PMC3766368.
  19. Spencer KM. Baseline gamma power during auditory steady-state stimulation in schizophrenia. Front Hum Neurosci. 2011; 5:190. PMID: 22319485; PMCID: PMC3267371.
  20. Hall MH, Spencer KM, Schulze K, McDonald C, Kalidindi S, Kravariti E, Kane F, Murray RM, Bramon E, Sham P, Rijsdijk F. The genetic and environmental influences of event-related gamma oscillations on bipolar disorder. Bipolar Disord. 2011 May; 13(3):260-71. PMID: 21676129; PMCID: PMC3119203.
  21. Spencer KM, Nestor PG, Valdman O, Niznikiewicz MA, Shenton ME, McCarley RW. Enhanced facilitation of spatial attention in schizophrenia. Neuropsychology. 2011 Jan; 25(1):76-85. PMID: 20919764; PMCID: PMC3017629.
  22. Luck SJ, Mathalon DH, O'Donnell BF, Hämäläinen MS, Spencer KM, Javitt DC, Uhlhaas PJ. A roadmap for the development and validation of event-related potential biomarkers in schizophrenia research. Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Jul 01; 70(1):28-34. PMID: 21111401; PMCID: PMC3116072.
  23. Arbel Y, Spencer KM, Donchin E. The N400 and the P300 are not all that independent. Psychophysiology. 2011 Jun; 48(6):861-75. PMID: 21073481.
    View in: PubMed
  24. Whitford TJ, Kubicki M, Ghorashi S, Schneiderman JS, Hawley KJ, McCarley RW, Shenton ME, Spencer KM. Predicting inter-hemispheric transfer time from the diffusion properties of the corpus callosum in healthy individuals and schizophrenia patients: a combined ERP and DTI study. Neuroimage. 2011 Feb 01; 54(3):2318-29. PMID: 20977941; PMCID: PMC3006645.
  25. Mulert C, Kirsch V, Pascual-Marqui R, McCarley RW, Spencer KM. Long-range synchrony of ? oscillations and auditory hallucination symptoms in schizophrenia. Int J Psychophysiol. 2011 Jan; 79(1):55-63. PMID: 20713096; PMCID: PMC3017735.
  26. Woo TU, Spencer K, McCarley RW. Gamma oscillation deficits and the onset and early progression of schizophrenia. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2010 May-Jun; 18(3):173-89. PMID: 20415633; PMCID: PMC2860612.
  27. Spencer KM. The functional consequences of cortical circuit abnormalities on gamma oscillations in schizophrenia: insights from computational modeling. Front Hum Neurosci. 2009; 3:33. PMID: 19876408; PMCID: PMC2769552.
  28. Spencer KM, Niznikiewicz MA, Nestor PG, Shenton ME, McCarley RW. Left auditory cortex gamma synchronization and auditory hallucination symptoms in schizophrenia. BMC Neurosci. 2009 Jul 20; 10:85. PMID: 19619324; PMCID: PMC2719648.
  29. Onitsuka T, Spencer KM, Lucia LC, Shenton ME, McCarley RW, Niznikiewicz MA. Abnormal asymmetry of the face n170 repetition effect in male patients with chronic schizophrenia. Brain Imaging Behav. 2009 Sep; 3(3):240-5. PMID: 22005988.
    View in: PubMed
  30. Niznikiewicz MA, Spencer KM, Dickey C, Voglmaier M, Seidman LJ, Shenton ME, McCarley RW. Abnormal pitch mismatch negativity in individuals with schizotypal personality disorder. Schizophr Res. 2009 May; 110(1-3):188-93. PMID: 19327968; PMCID: PMC4285443.
  31. Spencer KM, Salisbury DF, Shenton ME, McCarley RW. Gamma-band auditory steady-state responses are impaired in first episode psychosis. Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Sep 01; 64(5):369-75. PMID: 18400208; PMCID: PMC2579257.
  32. Spencer KM. Visual gamma oscillations in schizophrenia: implications for understanding neural circuitry abnormalities. Clin EEG Neurosci. 2008 Apr; 39(2):65-8. PMID: 18450170.
    View in: PubMed
  33. Spencer KM, Niznikiewicz MA, Shenton ME, McCarley RW. Sensory-evoked gamma oscillations in chronic schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry. 2008 Apr 15; 63(8):744-7. PMID: 18083143; PMCID: PMC2330275.
  34. Javitt DC, Spencer KM, Thaker GK, Winterer G, Hajós M. Neurophysiological biomarkers for drug development in schizophrenia. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2008 Jan; 7(1):68-83. PMID: 18064038; PMCID: PMC2753449.
  35. Nestor PG, Kubicki M, Spencer KM, Niznikiewicz M, McCarley RW, Shenton ME. Attentional networks and cingulum bundle in chronic schizophrenia. Schizophr Res. 2007 Feb; 90(1-3):308-15. PMID: 17150337; PMCID: PMC1906862.
  36. Onitsuka T, Niznikiewicz MA, Spencer KM, Frumin M, Kuroki N, Lucia LC, Shenton ME, McCarley RW. Functional and structural deficits in brain regions subserving face perception in schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry. 2006 Mar; 163(3):455-62. PMID: 16513867; PMCID: PMC2773688.
  37. Nestor PG, Valdman O, Niznikiewicz M, Spencer K, McCarley RW, Shenton ME. Word priming in schizophrenia: associational and semantic influences. Schizophr Res. 2006 Feb 28; 82(2-3):139-42. PMID: 16325376; PMCID: PMC2768044.
  38. Spencer KM, Banich MT. Hemispheric biases and the control of visuospatial attention: an ERP study. BMC Neurosci. 2005 Aug 24; 6:51. PMID: 16120226.
    View in: PubMed
  39. Spencer KM, Nestor PG, Perlmutter R, Niznikiewicz MA, Klump MC, Frumin M, Shenton ME, McCarley RW. Neural synchrony indexes disordered perception and cognition in schizophrenia. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2004 Dec 07; 101(49):17288-93. PMID: 15546988; PMCID: PMC535363.
  40. Dien J, Spencer KM, Donchin E. Parsing the late positive complex: mental chronometry and the ERP components that inhabit the neighborhood of the P300. Psychophysiology. 2004 Sep; 41(5):665-78. PMID: 15318873.
    View in: PubMed
  41. Dien J, Spencer KM, Donchin E. Localization of the event-related potential novelty response as defined by principal components analysis. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2003 Oct; 17(3):637-50. PMID: 14561451.
    View in: PubMed
  42. Spencer KM, Nestor PG, Niznikiewicz MA, Salisbury DF, Shenton ME, McCarley RW. Abnormal neural synchrony in schizophrenia. J Neurosci. 2003 Aug 13; 23(19):7407-11. PMID: 12917376; PMCID: PMC2848257.
  43. Goldstein A, Spencer KM, Donchin E. The influence of stimulus deviance and novelty on the P300 and novelty P3. Psychophysiology. 2002 Nov; 39(6):781-90. PMID: 12462506.
    View in: PubMed
  44. Nestor PG, Han SD, Niznikiewicz M, Salisbury D, Spencer K, Shenton ME, McCarley RW. Semantic disturbance in schizophrenia and its relationship to the cognitive neuroscience of attention. Biol Psychol. 2001 Jul-Aug; 57(1-3):23-46. PMID: 11454433; PMCID: PMC2849104.
  45. Friederici AD, Mecklinger A, Spencer KM, Steinhauer K, Donchin E. Syntactic parsing preferences and their on-line revisions: a spatio-temporal analysis of event-related brain potentials. Brain Res Cogn Brain Res. 2001 Apr; 11(2):305-23. PMID: 11275491.
    View in: PubMed
  46. Spencer KM, Dien J, Donchin E. Spatiotemporal analysis of the late ERP responses to deviant stimuli. Psychophysiology. 2001 Mar; 38(2):343-58. PMID: 11347879.
    View in: PubMed
  47. He B, Lian J, Spencer KM, Dien J, Donchin E. A cortical potential imaging analysis of the P300 and novelty P3 components. Hum Brain Mapp. 2001 Feb; 12(2):120-30. PMID: 11169876.
    View in: PubMed
  48. Spencer KM, Vila Abad E, Donchin E. On the search for the neurophysiological manifestation of recollective experience. Psychophysiology. 2000 Jul; 37(4):494-506. PMID: 10934908.
    View in: PubMed
  49. Donchin E, Spencer KM, Wijesinghe R. The mental prosthesis: assessing the speed of a P300-based brain-computer interface. IEEE Trans Rehabil Eng. 2000 Jun; 8(2):174-9. PMID: 10896179.
    View in: PubMed
  50. Spencer KM, Coles MG. The lateralized readiness potential: relationship between human data and response activation in a connectionist model. Psychophysiology. 1999 May; 36(3):364-70. PMID: 10352560.
    View in: PubMed
  51. Spencer KM, Dien J, Donchin E. A componential analysis of the ERP elicited by novel events using a dense electrode array. Psychophysiology. 1999 May; 36(3):409-14. PMID: 10352565.
    View in: PubMed
  52. Spencer KM, Polich J. Poststimulus EEG spectral analysis and P300: attention, task, and probability. Psychophysiology. 1999 Mar; 36(2):220-32. PMID: 10194969.
    View in: PubMed
  53. Donchin E, Spencer KM, Dien J. The varieties of deviant experience: ERP manifestations of deviance processors. Boxtel GJM, Bocker KBE, editors. Brain and Behavior: Past, Present, and Future. 1997; 67-91.
  54. Polich J, Mackie KD, Spencer KM, Ohashi K. The effects of hemispheric differences on feature perturbations. Psychol Res. 1991; 53(4):274-80. PMID: 1792298.
    View in: PubMed
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Funded by the NIH/NCATS Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program, grant number UL1TR001102, and through institutional support from Harvard University, Harvard Medical School, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.