Yuliya S. Nikolova

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Research integrating neuroimaging and molecular genetics has yielded important insights into how variability in brain chemistry predicts individual differences in brain function, behavior and related risk for psychopathology. However, existing studies have been limited by their focus on the independent effects of single polymorphisms with modest impact on(More)
We examined epigenetic regulation in regards to behaviorally and clinically relevant human brain function. Specifically, we found that increased promoter methylation of the serotonin transporter gene predicted increased threat-related amygdala reactivity and decreased mRNA expression in postmortem amygdala tissue. These patterns were independent of(More)
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is etiologically complex and has a heterogeneous presentation. This heterogeneity hinders the ability of molecular genetic research to reliably detect the small effects conferred by common genetic variation. As a result, significant research efforts have been directed at investigating more homogenous intermediate phenotypes(More)
The neuropeptide galanin has been implicated in the regulation of appetitive and consummatory behaviors. Prior studies have shown that direct injection of galanin into the hypothalamus results in increased release of dopamine (DA) in the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), and parallel increases in food and alcohol consumption. These studies are consistent with a(More)
BACKGROUND Early life stress (ELS) is consistently associated with increased risk for subsequent psychopathology. Individual differences in neural response to reward may confer vulnerability to stress-related psychopathology. Using data from the ongoing Duke Neurogenetics Study, the present study examined whether reward-related ventral striatum (VS)(More)
Prior work suggests that there may be two distinct pathways of alcohol use disorder (AUD) risk: one associated with positive emotion enhancement and behavioral impulsivity, and another associated with negative emotion relief and coping. We sought to map these two pathways onto individual differences in neural reward and threat processing assessed using(More)
Emotional behavior is in part heritable and often disrupted in psychopathology. Identification of specific genetic variants that drive this heritability may provide important new insight into molecular and neurobiological mechanisms involved in emotionality. Our results demonstrate that the presynaptic vesicular monoamine transporter 1 (VMAT1) Thr136Ile(More)
BACKGROUND Stressful life experiences frequently precede the onset of major depression; however, the mechanisms that underlie this link are poorly understood. Importantly, some individuals are more susceptible to the depressogenic effects of stress than others. Carriers of the S or LG allele of the 5-HTTLPR/rs25531 polymorphisms (S' participants) have been(More)
Imaging genetics has identified many contributions of DNA sequence variation to individual differences in brain function, behavior, and risk for psychopathology. Recent studies have extended this work beyond the genome by mapping epigenetic differences, specifically gene methylation in peripherally assessed DNA, onto variability in behaviorally and(More)
BACKGROUND Stressful life events are among the most reliable precipitants of major depressive disorder; yet, not everyone exposed to stress develops depression. It has been hypothesized that robust neural reactivity to reward and associated stable levels of positive affect (PA) may protect against major depressive disorder in the context of environmental(More)