Wei Gao


Assistant Professor
Department: Radiology
Contact: wgao@email.unc.edu

Research Interests:
Dr. Gao researches the brain's functioning mechanism underlying normal development and disorders using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Early Brain Development
One of the key topics of our research is to better understand early brain development. Through an integrated approach combining both structural (e.g., DTI) and functional (e.g., fMRI and resting state fMRI) brain imaging, we aim to peek into brain’s most complicated wiring process during the first years of life. The intricate relationship between brain’s structural development, functional growth, and behavioral improvements will be systematically studied. Moreover, the intricate interplay between genes and environment during this process will also be explored based on a twin study design. Finally, leveraging the understanding gained from normal brain development, the neurophysiological mechanism underlying various brain disorders with a developmental origin will be tackled, potentially helping early diagnosis and intervention.

Normal/Diseased Brain Functioning
Recently emerged functional connectivity technique proves to be a powerful tool to delineate the interaction pattern among brain’s various functional areas. Based on this tool, we are interested delineating brain’s organizational principles during resting state as well as its dynamics under different cognitive manipulation. Possible disruptions of the functional connectivity pattern under different pathological states will also be investigated.


Recent Publications:

1. Elton A, Gao W. Divergent Task-Dependent Functional Connectivity of Executive Control and Salience Networks. Accepted for Cerebral Cortex October 2013.

2. Alcauter S, Lin W, Smith JK, Gilmore JH, Gao W. Consistent anterior-posterior segregation of the insula during the first two years of life. Accepted for Cerebral Cortex October 2013.

3. Gao W, Alcauter S, Smith JK, Gilmore JH, Lin W. Development of Human Brain Cortical Network Architecture during Infancy. Accepted for Brain Structure and Function

4. Zhen Wei, Sarael Alcauter, Ke Jin, Zi-wen Peng, Wei Gao. Graph Theoretical Analysis of Sedation’s Effect on Whole Brain Functional System in School-Aged Children. Accepted for Brain Connectivity. 2013

5. Feng Shi, Pew-Thian Yap, Wei Gao, Weili Lin, John H Gilmore, Dinggang Shen. Altered Structural Connectivity in Neonates at Genetic Risk for Schizophrenia: A Combined Study Using Morphological and White Matter Networks . Accepted for NeuroImage. 2012

6. Wei Gao, John H Gilmore, Dinggang Shen, J Keith Smith, Hongtu Zhu, Weili Lin. The Synchronization within and Interaction between the Default and Dorsal Attention Networks in Early Infancy. Cerebral Cortex. 2012 doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs043

7. Wei Gao, John H Gilmore, Kelly S. Giovanello, J Keith Smith, Dinggang Shen, Hongtu Zhu, Weili Lin. Temporal and Spatial Evolution of Brain Network Topology during the First Two Years of Life. PLoS One, 6(9): e25278. 2011.

8. Wei Gao, Weili Lin. Frontal parietal control network regulates the anti-correlated default and dorsal attention networks. Human Brain Mapping, 2011 Mar 9. doi: 10.1002/hbm.21204. (Epub ahead of print).

9. Wei Gao, Hongtu Zhu, Kelly S. Giovanello, J Keith Smith, Dinggang Shen, John H Gilmore, Weili Lin. Evidence on the emergence of the brain’s default network from 2-week-old to 2-year-old healthy pediatric subjects. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), Vol.106, No.16. 6790-6795, 2009.

10. Wei Gao, Hongtu Zhu, Weili Lin. A unified approach for diffusion tensor imaging technique. NeuroImage, Vol 44, 729-741, 2009.