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Mei-Hua Hall, PhD

Mei-Hua Hall, PhD

McLean Hospital Title:
Harvard Medical School Title:
  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry

Biography:

Mei-Hua Hall, PhD, has over 10 years of experience in clinical research focused on using electroencephalogram (EEG) techniques to characterize differences and similarities of brain function in schizophrenia, schizoaffective, and bipolar disorder. With a broad background in clinical psychology, epidemiology, and statistical modeling, she also has specific training and expertise in electrophysiology, psychiatric genetics, and cognitive neuroscience.

Dr. Hall has conducted several neurobiological and genetics projects and published more than 40 papers characterizing ERP deficits as potential biomarkers across psychotic spectrum disorders, identifying distinct subgroups of psychotic patients on the basis of neurobiological signatures that transcend diagnostic classification, and examining genetic and environmental risk factors for psychiatric disorders. She is currently the principal investigator of a study that seeks to examine the effects of a specific intervention, cognitive remediation, on sensory and cognitive processing in schizophrenia.

Research Focus:

Dr. Hall’s Psychosis Neurobiology Laboratory was founded in 2013. Dr. Hall and her staff are building a neurophysiological profile of the brain that characterizes psychotic disorders, with the goal of identifying the neurobiological mechanisms that correspond to behavioral symptoms. In addition, her lab has developed a computerized cognitive training program for patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder with the goal of improving certain cognitive functions (such as memory and attention) and psychosocial outcomes.

Dr. Hall’s research interests are in using multimodal approaches to understand psychiatric disease phenotypes and the neurobiological mechanisms underlying schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, and in clarifying how genetic risk factors influence psychopathology, neurocognitive traits, and brain function. Her ultimate goal is improving treatment outcomes. The lab’s approach draws on electrophysiology, psychology, genetics, epidemiology, and cognitive neuroscience.

Robust studies of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have identified many risk genes and variations within these genes associated with psychotic disorders, though their effects on the brain are largely unknown. The lab collects a variety of neurophysiological, clinical, and cognitive performance data on patients with psychotic disorders. Dr. Hall’s goal is to link genetic risk factors associated with psychosis disorders to brain neurophysiological characteristics and clarify the underlying neurobiology of psychotic disorders.

McLean research
Dr. Hall works with a study volunteer in her lab

In addition, the lab uses quantitative electrophysiological measures (EEG and event-related potentials) to further the understanding of how genetic risk variations impact the neural functions that contribute to the development of psychotic illnesses. The overall research strategy is to collect a variety of neurophysiological and clinical data on patients with psychotic disorders and conduct quantitative trait-based association analyses to link genetic risk factors to brain neurophysiology.

Dr. Hall aims to stratify first episode of psychosis patients into homogeneous subgroups based on patients’ unique neurobiological profiles and relate these profiles to later functional outcome. The lab is conducting a study to follow up first episode of psychosis patients every six months for two years and collect an expanded biomarker panel (cognitive, MRI, and EEG) as well as symptomatic and functional outcome measures at each time point. The goal is to identify first episode of psychosis individuals who are likely versus not likely to achieve functional recovery.

The group also works to integrate brain neurophysiological (EEG) and neurochemistry (MRS) measures as well as cognitive training interventions to develop optimal training programs for individual patients. In recent years, training programs based on learning-induced neuroplasticity have shown promising improvement effects on cognitive function. This suggests that cognitive rehabilitation training induces neurobiological remodeling in brain circuitry relevant to a range of cognitive functions. Dr. Hall and her staff are conducting a study using multimodal approaches to systematically characterize brain changes induced by cognitive training to reveal the underlying neurobiological mechanisms mediating these changes.

The lab’s cognitive training intervention for people with schizophrenia is a computerized, individualized program that aims to improve attention, memory, executive function, and problem solving. They are testing the program with chronically ill and first episode patients with the goals of implementing an empirical data driven analytical approach to define distinct neurophysiological profiles that transcend diagnostic classification. Dr. Hall has identified three homogeneous subgroups of individuals independent of diagnostic boundaries who share discrete biologically-based neurophysiological functional profiles. This result may lead to the identification of genotype profiles and treatment strategies specific to homogenous subgroups of patients.

Expertise:

Psychotic DisordersTranslational ResearchGenetics

Personnel:

  • Sophie Brickman, Research Assistant
  • Cassandra Godzik, NP, PhD Student
  • Nicholas Miller, Research Data Analyst
  • Caitlin Monaghan, PhD, Research Fellow

Collaborators:

  • Elvira Bramon, MD, University College London (UCL), UK
  • Chia-Yen Chen, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Tom Chittenden, PhD, DPhil. Boston Children's Hospital
  • Fei Du, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Robert Freedman, MD, University of Colorado Health Science Center
  • Kristina Holton, Harvard Medical School
  • Hai-Gwo Hwu, MD, National Taiwan University Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan
  • J. Eric Jensen, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Matcheri Keshavan, MD, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
  • Kathryn Eve Lewandowski, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Deborah L. Levy, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Tao Li, Sichuan University and West China Hospital, PR China
  • Guia Guffanti Masetti, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Dost Öngür, MD, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Diego A. Pizzagalli, PhD, McLean Hospital
  • Fruhling Rijsdijk, PhD, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, UK
  • Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Kevin M. Spencer, PhD, Veteran Affairs Boston Healthcare System
  • Wang Xiang, MD, PhD, Second Xiangya Hospital of Central South University, Hunan, China
  • Tian-Hang Zhou, MD, Institute of Mental Health, Peking University, Beijing, China

Selected Publications:

Hall M-H, Smoller JW, Cook NR, Schulze K, Hyoun Lee P, Taylor G, Bramon E, Coleman MJ, Murray RM, Salisbury DF, Levy DL. Patterns of deficits in brain function in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia: A cluster analytic study. Psychiatry Research 2012;200: 272-280.

Hall M-H, Levy DL, Salisbury DF, Haddad S, Gallagher PJ, Lohan M, Cohen B, Öngür D, Smoller JW. Neurophysiologic effects of GWAS derived schizophrenia and bipolar risk variants. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B, Neuropsychiatric Genetics 2014;165:9-18.

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. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B, Neuropsychiatric Genetics 2015;168(3):151-61.

PubMed search for Dr. Hall

Education & Training:

Degrees:
  • 1997 BSc in Psychology, University of Lancaster, UK
  • 1998 MSc in Psychology, University of London UCL, UK
  • 2006 PhD, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, UK
Fellowship:
  • 2006-2007 Fellowship in Biological and Social/Developmental Psychiatry, NIMH Clinical Research Training Program, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School
  • 2007-2008 Fellowship in Psychiatry and Neuroscience, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School
  • 2008-2009 Fellowship in Biological and Social/ Developmental Psychiatry, NIMH Clinical Research Training Program, McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School
Contact:

Email:


Phone:

617.855.3632


Office Address:

Belmont campus - Admissions Building, Room S338