Reza Momenan, PhD, Acting Chief
Section on Brain Electrophysiology and Imaging, LCTS

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health
10 Center Drive, Room 10-CRC/1E-5330: MSC 1108
Bethesda MD 20892-1108

Telephone: 301.451.6972


Group photo of members of the NIAAA LCTS SBEI

What we do

This section conducts both functional and structural brain imaging studies related to alcoholism. For functional work we primarily use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques although positron emission tomographic (PET) studies are also undertaken. Structural studies include both measurements of brain volumes using MRI as well as diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). We also use nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to measure various brain metabolites. Recently much of our functional work has focused on emotion and motivation as they related to substance abuse. Pharmacological fMRI studies are also employed, particularly studies involving alcohol administration.


Current Staff

Reza Momenan, PhD
Acting Chief and Staff Scientist
telephone: 301.451.6972

Reza Momenan

Dr. Momenan provides research expertise and support in the areas of experimental design, imaging, and analysis to the SBEI and the Laboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies. He also conducts imaging research in both human and animal brain using various methods. His main focus of research is design and developing experiments utilizing various MR modalities for study of motivation, impulsivity, and emotions as related to addiction.



Dan Rio, PhD
telephone: 301.402.2994

Dan Rio

Dr. Rio is a physicist/mathematician who setup the original imaging facilities in this section. His current interest is developing new models for analysis of functional MRI in addition to providing support in the areas of computational mathematics, mathematical modeling, image processing and experimental design.


Mike Kerich
Computer Program Specialist
Phone: 301.496.6540

Mike Kerich

Michael Kerich joined the section in 1986 as a Computer Specialist/Scientist after received his BS in Chemistry/Minor in Biochemistry with honors in 1982 and his BS in Computer Science in 1986. He has been involved in the collection and processing of structural and functional images for the section and the LCTS. He also helps retrieve and integrate psychological, genetic, and demographic data with the imaging data for analysis.  He maintains the linux systems used for analysis and backups all the imaging data for the section. He also provides limited desktop support for users in the section. He also helps develop electronic data entry forms and kiosks using Filemaker for the lab.



Xi Zhu, PhD
Post-Doctoral IRTA
Phone: 301.435.3487

Dr. Xi

Dr. Zhu joined BEI in 2013 after graduating from University of Houston with a Ph.D in Electrical Engineering.  Her previous research interest is in developing, simulating and evaluating new mathematical models in analyzing fMRI BOLD signal. Her current research is focus on functional connectivity on resting state and task fMRI studies. She is also interested in integrating large scale data across many different types and use machine learning /artificial intelligence approach to construct predictive network models of addiction.



Carlos R. Cortes, M.D., Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellow
Phone: 301.594.9950

Carlos Cortes

Dr. Cortes received his Medicine and Surgery Doctoral Degree from the Universidad Industrial de Santander (Bucaramanga, Colombia) in 1995 and his Ph.D. degree from University of Maryland Baltimore County in 2013.  His previous experience includes:  primary care physician in Colombia, visiting research fellow in the International Center for Mental Health at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY, supervisor/therapist in a community mental health center in Allentown, PA and research associate at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, University of Maryland, Baltimore. He joined the BEI section in October 2013 (Postdoctoral Intramural Research Training Award). Dr. Cortes is interested on combining multimodal neuroimaging and computational modeling to elucidate possible pathophysiological mechanisms underlying clinical features in addiction.



Erica Grodin, BA, GPP
Brown University and National Institutes of Health
Phone: (301)451-6978

Photo of Erica Grodin

Erica Grodin joined BEI in 2010. She is a graduate student studying neuroscience in the Brown University/NIH Graduate Partnerships Program. She graduated from American University in 2010, where her work focused on the conditioned taste aversion phenomenon. Her Ph.D. dissertation work focuses on investigating the neural correlates of compulsive drinking, particularly why people continue drinking despite adverse consequences. Her previous research focused on the structural correlates of alcoholism and the effect of co-morbid substance abuse.



Karan Mathur, BS, Postbac-IRTA
Phone: (301) 827-0321

Karan Mathur

Karan Mathur joined the BEI section in July 2013 after graduating from Virginia Tech with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry with a minor in Interdisciplinary Engineering and Science. His research experience as an undergraduate involved studying the role of nanomaterials in medical applications and drug delivery. In addition, he has conducted research in the field of genetic and metabolic engineering by studying the potential of B. Subtilis to synthesize biofuels. Karan’s responsibilities include phone screening, administering assessments and clinical interviews, and conducting fMRI studies that explore the neuro-circuitry of addiction.



Grace Brennan, BS, Postbac IRTA
Phone: (301)402-5630

Photo of Grace Brennan

Grace Brennan joined the BEI section in October 2013. She completed her undergraduate studies at the College of William and Mary, where she majored in Psychology and German Studies. As an IRTA, her responsibilities include screening potential research subjects, administering assessments and clinical interviews, coordinating and running study visits, and data entry and analysis. She is primarily involved in a neuroimaging protocol investigating the neural substrates of approach-avoidance conflict in alcohol use disorders. Her research interests include examining the role of cognitive, affective, and neural processes in the onset and maintenance of substance use disorders, with the aim of informing and developing clinical interventions.



Sasha Brietzke, BA, Postbac IRTA
Phone: (301) 496-7513

Photo of Sasha Brietzke

Sasha Brietzke joined Section on Brain Electrophysiology and Imaging in June 2014 after graduating from Johns Hopkins University. Sasha’s responsibilities include phone screening, running screening visits and imaging sessions, administering clinical interviews and cognitive tasks, entering data, and performing analysis. She is interested in the neurobiology of addiction and biomedical imaging statistics applied to functional and structural neuroimaging.



Kelsey Sundby, BA, Postbac IRTA
Phone: (301) 435-0686

Photo of Kelsy Sunby

Kelsey Sundby joined BEI in June 2014 after graduating from the University of Virginia. Her primary interests are in clinical psychology and social neuroscience. Her work in the lab includes phone screening, coordinating and running both screening and fMRI visits, administering assessments and clinical interviews, and data entry and analysis.



Sanket Gupte, M.S. Programmer Analyst/Systems Administrator
Phone-1: 443-740-2620
Phone-2: 301-496-7874

Photo of Sanket Gupte

Sanket Gupte joined BEI section in April 2012. He completed his M.S. In Computer Science from University of Maryland Baltimore County and is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in the same field. His main duties include designing software applications for processing and analysis of neuroimaging and genetics data. He also develops and maintains a web based software repository for storing MRI Imaging data, that allows easy interfacing, processing, clustering and analysis. His other duties also include managing and administering Linux Systems. He shares his time between BEI and NRB-Branch of NIDA.


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Clinical Protocols

98-AA-0009   Screening Evaluation for NIAAA Protocols

98-AA-0056   Functional Neuroanatomy of Positive and Negative Affect in Alcoholics and Nonalcoholics

14-AA-0094   Neural Substrate of Approach Avoidance in Alcoholism

14-AA-0066   Behavioral and Functional MRI Task Development, Implementation, and Testing

14-AA-0080   Characterization Imaging Instruments in Alcoholics and Non-Alcoholics

View more NIAAA Clinical Protocols & link to all NIH Clinical Protocols



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Selected Publications


Vladimir V. Senatorov, Claire L. Mann, Melanie L. Schwandt, Markus Heilig, Daniel W. Hommer, Reza Momenan, Reduced anterior insula and enlarged amygdala, nucleus accumbens, and thalamus in alcohol dependent patients:  a magnetic resonance imaging study of alcoholism, Brain (accepted).

Durkee C, Sarlls J, Hommer D, Momenan R, White matter microstructure alterations: a study of alcoholics with and without post-traumatic stress disorder, PLoS One (2013) Volume 8, Issue 11, e80952, 1-10. PubMed

Leah M. Mayo, Diana Fraser, Emma Childs, Reza Momenan, Daniel Hommer, Harriet de Wit, Markus Heilig, Conditioned preference to a methamphetamine-associated contextual cue in humans, Journal of Neuropsychopharmocology (2013) 38, 921–29. PubMed

Grodin E., Lin H., Hommer, D.W., Durkee, C.A., Momenan R., Deficits in cortical, diencephalic and midbrain gray matter in alcoholism measured by VBM: Effects of co-morbid substance abuse, NeuroImage: Clinical  (2013) 2: 469-76. PubMed

Momenan, R., Steckler L.E., Saad Z., van Rafelghem S., Kerich, M., and Hommer, D.W., Effects of alcohol dependence on cortical thickness (2012), Psychaiatry Research: Neuroimaging, Volume 204, Issues 2–3, 30 November (2012), Pages 101–111. PubMed

Bjork JM, Chen G, Smith AR, Hommer DW: Incentive-elicited mesolimbic activation in adolescents with externalizing disorders. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry. 2010 Jul 11;51(7):827-37.  PubMed

Gilman JM, Davis MB, Hommer DW: Greater activation in left hemisphere language–related regions during simple judgment tasks among substance-dependent patients in treatment for alcoholism. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2010 Feb;34(2):331–41. PubMed

Bjork JM, Momenan R, and Hommer DW: Delay discounting correlates with proportional lateral frontal cortex volumes. Biological Psychiatry. 2009 Apr 15;65(8):710-3. PubMed

Bjork JM, Smith AR, Hommer DW: Striatal sensitivity to reward deliveries and omissions in substance dependent patients, NeuroImage. 2008 Oct 1;42(4):1609-21. PubMed

Gilman JM, Hommer DW. Modulation of brain response to emotional images by alcohol cues in alcohol-dependent patients. Addiction Biology. 2008 Sep;13(3-4):423-34. PubMed

Bjork JM, Knutson B, Hommer DW: Incentive-elicited striatal activation in adolescent children of alcoholics. Addiction. 2008 Aug;103(8):1308-19. PubMed

Bjork JM, Momenan R, Smith A, Hommer DW. Reduced posterior mesofrontal cortex activation by risky rewards in substance-dependent patients. Alcohol and Drug Dependence. 2008 May 1;95(1-2):115-28. PubMed

Gilman JM, Ramchandani VA , Davis MB , Bjork JM, Hommer DW. Why we like to drink: An fMRI Study of the Rewarding and Anxiolytic Effects of Alcohol. Journal of Neuroscience. 2008 Apr 30;28(18):4583-91. PubMed

George DT, Gilman J, Hersh J, Thorsell A, Herion D, Geyer C, Peng X, Kielbasa W, Rawlings R, Brandt J, Gehlert DR, Tauscher JT, Hunt SP, Hommer D, Heilig M. Neurokinin 1 receptor antagonism as a possible therapy for alcoholism. Science. 2008 Mar 14;319(5869):1536-9. PubMed

Gilman JM, Bjork JM, Hommer DW. Parental alcohol use and brain volumes in early- and late-onset alcoholics. Biological Psychiatry. 2007 Sep 15;62(6):607-15. PubMed

Salloum JB, Ramchandani VA, Bodurka J, Rawlings R, Momenan R, George D, Hommer DW. Blunted rostral anterior cingulate response during a simplified decoding task of negative facial expressions in alcoholic patients. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2007 Sep;31(9):1490-504. PubMed

Schottenbauer MA, Hommer D, Weingartner H. Memory deficits among alcoholics: Performance on a selective reminding task. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition. 2007 Sep;14(5):505-516. PubMed

Bjork JM, Smith A, Danube C, Hommer DW. Developmental differences in posterior mesofrontal cortex recruitment by risky rewards. Journal of Neuroscience. 2007 May 2;27(18):4839-49. PubMed

Schottenbauer MA, Momenan R, Kerich M, Hommer DW. Relationships among aging, IQ, and intracranial volume in alcoholics and control subjects. Neuropsychology. 2007 May;21(3):337-45. PubMed

Bjork JM, Hommer DW. Anticipating instrumentally obtained and passively-received rewards: A factorial fMRI investigation. Behavioural Brain Research. 2007 Feb 12;177(1):165-70. PubMed

Brown AK, George DT, Fujita M, Liow J, Ghose S, Sangare J, Hommer DW, Innis RB. PET [11C]DASB imaging of serotonin transporters in patients with alcoholism. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 2007 Jan;31(1):28-32. PubMed

Rio DE, Rawlings RR, Woltz LA, Salloum JB, Hommer DW. Single subject image analysis using complex general linear model - An application to functional magnetic imaging with multiple inputs. Computer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine. 2006 Apr;82(1):10-9. PubMed

Bjork JM, Hommer DW, Grant SJ, Danube C. Impulsivity in abstinent alcohol-dependent patients: relation to control subjects and type 1-/type 2-like traits. Alcohol. 2004 Oct-Nov;34(2-3):133-50. PubMed

Knutson B, Bjork JM, Fong GW, Hommer D, Mattay VS, Weinberger DR. Amphetamine modulates human incentive processing. Neuron. 2004 Jul 22;43(2):261-9. PubMed

Momenan R, Rawlings R, Fong G, Knutson B, Hommer D. Voxel-based homogeneity probability maps of gray matter in groups: assessing the reliability of functional effects. Neuroimage. 2004 Mar;21(3):965-72. PubMed

Bjork JM, Knutson B, Fong GW, Caggiano DM, Bennett SM, Hommer DW. Incentive-elicited brain activation in adolescents: similarities and differences from young adults. J Neurosci. 2004 Feb;24(8):1793-802. PubMed

Bjork JM, Grant SJ, Hommer DW. Cross-sectional volumetric analysis of brain atrophy in alcohol dependence: effects of drinking history and comorbid substance use disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 2003 Nov;160(11):2038-45. PubMed


Ciccocioppo R, Gehlert DR, Ryabinin A, Kaur S, Cippitelli A, Thorsell A, Le, AD, Hipskind, PA, Hamdouchi C, Lu J, Hembre EJ, Cramer J, Song M, McKinzie D, Morin M, Economidou D, Stopponi S, Cannella N, Braconi S, Kallupi M, de Guglielmo G, Massi M, George DT, Gilman J, Hersh, J, Tauscher JT, Hunt SP, Hommer, D, Heilig M: Stress-related neuropeptides and alcoholism: CRH, NPY, and beyond. Alcohol. 2009 Nov;43:491-8. PubMed


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