Rajpreet Chahal

Raj Chahal

Major Professor: Dr. Amanda Guyer


My research interests intersect developmental neuroscience and clinical psychology by seeking to understand the relationship between the developing brain and the onset and maintenance of psychopathology in adolescence. A current framework designed to innovatively challenge traditional categorical views of mental illness come from the NIH’s Research Domain Criteria (RDoC). Through this lens, I am bridging together molecular, neural network level, hormonal, and symptom-level data to understand the biological underpinnings of psychopathology- particularly depression. While onset of depression is highly prevalent in adolescence, little is understood of how neurobiology may be interacting with the environment to influence the presentation and heterogeneous symptoms of depression. My research seeks to characterize early pathology and risk factors of such affective disorders using novel neuroimaging techniques. Currently, I use resting state fMRI and diffusion tensor imaging to map changes in functional and structural effective neural connectivity and to delineate differences within and between networks related to depression.

Additionally, I focus on the contributions of pubertal hormones to brain network architecture and function. Specifically, I am interested in the effects of timing and tempo of pubertal hormone secretion and changes in white matter microstructure and connectivity.

I graduated from University of California Davis in 2012 with a B.S. in Psychology, emphasis in Biology. After graduating, I worked at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pennsylvania as a research specialist in Dr. Beatriz Luna’s Neurocognitive Development Lab, and as a research coordinator in Dr. Michael Hallquist’s lab. We investigated inhibitory control and emotion dysregulation in a number of longitudinal and cross-sectional fMRI studies of healthy and Borderline Personality Disorder adolescence

In August 2015, I moved back to California to pursue a PhD in Human Development at the University of California Davis. I am continuing to use longitudinal resting-state and diffusion tractography data to understand the developmental trajectories of brain systems which subserve appraisal of emotion, motivation, and cognitive control.