Advances in neuroscience have allowed researchers to explore the functional and structural organization of the human brain in ways never before possible. Some brain areas are broadly engaged across a multitude of human experiences, while others are only involved in very specific cognitive tasks. But how do particular brain areas become responsible for particular cognitive functions? How does this functional organization arise in development, and how does it change with traumatic injury and pathology? My research aims to answer these questions and to uncover the physical mechanisms underlying the functional differentiation of the human cortex during development, adulthood, and its plasticity in response to disorders and injury of the brain. I have shown that neuroanatomical scans alone can predict brain function and outcome, e.g. scans in children, even before they can read, can predict later reading development and dyslexia and scans in adults with social anxiety disorder can predict whether a specific treatment is likely to succeed for each individual. My work aims to offer powerful new strategies to understand, diagnose, and predict treatment outcome in both clinical and neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as plasticity and response to disease and trauma (e.g. traumatic brain injury and concussions). I use a variety of methods in developmental, computational, and cognitive neuroscience, including behavioral measures, fMRI, diffusion-weighted imaging (DWI), functional connectivity, modeling, and developmental neuroimaging. I obtained an Sc.B. in Neuroscience from Brown University, working with David Sheinberg and received my Ph.D. in Systems Neuroscience from MIT under the mentorship of John Gabrieli and Rebecca Saxe. I completed my postdoctoral fellow with Nancy Kanwisher at MIT in collaboration with Bruce Fischl at MGH.
"High-resolution magnetic resonance imaging reveals nuclei of the human amygdala: manual segmentation to automatic atlas." Saygin Z.M., Kliemann D., Iglesias E., van der Kouwe, A.J.W., Boyd E., Reuter M., Stevens A., Van Leemput K., McKee A., Frosch M.P, Fischl B., Augustinack J. (2017). NeuroImage doi:doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.04.046
"Connectivity precedes function in the development of the visual word form area." Saygin Z.M., Osher D., Norton E. S., Youssoufian D.A., Beach S., Feather J., Gaab, N., Gabrieli, J., Kanwisher N. (2016). Nature Neuroscience doi:10.1038/nn.4354
"Impaired frontal-limbic white matter maturation in children at high risk for major depression." Hung Y., Saygin Z.M., Biederman J., Hirshfeld-Becker D., Uchida M., Doehrmann O., Han M., Chai J., Kenworthy T., Yarmak P., Gaillard S., Whitfield-Gabrieli S., & Gabrieli J.D.E. (2016). Cerebral Cortex doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw250
"Brain Connectomics Predict Response to Treatment in Social Anxiety Disorder." Whitfield-Gabrieli S., Ghosh S., Nieto-Castanon A., Saygin Z.M., Doehrmann O., Chai J., Reynolds G., Hofmann S., Pollack M., Gabrieli J. (2016). Molecular Psychiatry doi:10.1038/mp.2015.109
"Structural Connectivity of the developing human amygdala." Saygin Z.M., Osher D., Koldewyn K., Martin R., Finn A., Saxe R., Gabrieli J., Sheridan M. (2015). PlosOne10(4): e0125170. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0125170
"Decreased Resting-State Functional Connectivity of the Frontal-Striatal Reward System in Social Anxiety Disorder." Manning J., Reynolds G., Saygin Z.M., Hofmann S., Pollack M., Gabrieli J., Whitfield-Gabrieli S. (2015). PlosOne10(4): e0125286. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0125286
"Structural Connectivity Fingerprints Predict Cortical Selectivity for Multiple Visual Categories across Cortex." Osher D.E, Saxe R., Koldewyn K., Gabrieli J.D.E., Kanwisher N., Saygin Z.M. (2015). Cerebral Cortex, (ePub ahead of print) doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhu303
"Tracking the Roots of Reading Ability: White Matter Volume and Integrity Correlate with Phonological Awareness in Prereading and Early-Reading Kindergarten Children." Saygin Z.M., Norton E.S., Osher D.E., Beach S. B., Cyr A.B., Ozranov-Palchik O., Yendiki A., Fischl B., Gaab N., Gabrieli J.D.E. (2013). Journal of Neuroscience, 33(33), 13251–13258.
"Anatomical connectivity patterns predict face-selectivity in the fusiform gyrus." Saygin Z.M., Osher D.E, Koldewyn K., Reynolds G., Gabrieli J.D.E., Saxe R.R. (2012). Nature Neuroscience, 15(2), 321-327. Supplementary information here.
"Predicting treatment response in social anxiety disorder from functional magnetic resonance imaging." Doehrmann O., Ghosh S., Polli F.E., Reynolds G.O., Horn, F., Keshavan A., Triantafyllou C., Saygin Z.M., Whitfield-Gabrieli S., Hofmann S.G., Pollack M.H., Gabrieli J.D.E. (2012). Archives of General Psychiatry, 1-11.
"Connectivity-based segmentation of human amygdala nuclei using probabilistic tractography." Saygin Z.M., Osher D.E., Augustinack J., Fischl B., Gabrieli J.D.E. (2011). NeuroImage, 56(3), 1353-1361.
"Predicting functional activity from structural connectivity." Osher D.E., Saygin Z.M., Gabrieli J.D.E. (2011). Front. Neuroinform. Conference Abstract: 4th INCF Congress of Neuroinformatics. doi: 10.3389/conf.fninf.2011.08.00010.