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Someone asked me what our main discoveries are. Of all the scientific articles our research team has published, which are the best 10 and why? Which are most significant? Here is a list of the findings that are cited the most by other researchers (according to the Science Citation Index). This list will change in the future, but it represents some of the work we have done. If you are more interested in the projects we are doing now, you may prefer to look at our projects page.
[Updated - April 2008]



  • Thompson PM, Dutton RA, Hayashi KM, Toga AW, Lopez OL, Aizenstein HJ, Becker JT (2005). Thinning of the Cerebral Cortex Visualized in HIV/AIDS Reflects CD4+ T-Lymphocyte Decline, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102(43):15647-15652, October 25, 2005 [Press Release]. [Article, .pdf, 1.2MB] [Images from the Study]

    This paper reported the first maps to visualize how HIV damages the brain. Damage was detected before symptoms appeared, offering promise for assessing new anti-retroviral drugs (BBC News, 2004).


  • Thompson PM, Hayashi KM, Simon SL, Geaga JA, Hong MS, Sui Y, Lee JY, Toga AW, Ling W, London ED (2004). Structural Abnormalities in the Brains of Human Subjects who Use Methamphetamine, Journal of Neuroscience, 24(26):6028-6036, June 30, 2004. [Press Release, Radio Interview] [Article, .pdf, 643 KB] [News Report]

    Here we created the first maps to visualize how methamphetamine damages the human brain, a discovery selected as one of the Top 100 Discoveries of the Year 2004 by Discover Magazine (Year in Science, Discover Magazine, Jan. 2005). Selective tissue loss in the cingulate, and hippocampus, were related to cognitive impairments.


  • Thompson PM, Hayashi KM, de Zubicaray G, Janke AL, Rose SE, Semple J, Hong MS, Herman D, Gravano D, Dittmer S, Doddrell DM, Toga AW (2003). Dynamics of Gray Matter Loss in Alzheimer's Disease, Journal of Neuroscience 23(3):994-1005, Feb. 1, 2003. [.pdf, 1.3MB] [Videos] [News Report] [Review Paper] [Video 1; QuickTime .mov] [Video 2; .wmv]

    This paper was the first to visualize the dynamic sequence of cortical atrophy in Alzheimer's Disease as it spreads in the living human brain. We generated three-dimensional time-lapse videos, from sequential brain MRI scans, to pinpoint where brain tissue is being lost, and how fast (New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Feb. 2003).


  • Thompson, P.M., Giedd, J.N., Woods, R.P., MacDonald, D., Evans, A.C., Toga, A.W. (2000). Growth Patterns in the Developing Human Brain Detected Using Continuum-Mechanical Tensor Mapping, Nature, 404(6774):190-193, Thursday March 9, 2000. Press Release, March 8, 2000 at 11:30AM PST. Full Article (.pdf 0.49MB)

    The paper was the first to map growth rates in the brains of living children.


  • Thompson, P.M., Vidal, C., Giedd, J.N., Gochman, P., Blumenthal, J., Nicolson, R., Toga, A.W., Rapoport, J.L. (2001). Mapping Adolescent Brain Change Reveals Dynamic Wave of Accelerated Gray Matter Loss in Very Early-Onset Schizophrenia, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, vol. 98, no. 20:11650-11655, September 25, 2001. Press Release, Sept. 24, 2001 at 2:00AM PST. Full Article: (.doc, 69 KB) (.pdf, 61 KB).


    This paper provides a new model of schizophrenia, and a new strategy to test novel antipsychotic drugs. We detected a wildfire of tissue loss spreading through the cortex as adolescents developed schizophrenia. The profile is an exaggeration of the pattern of normal teenage gray matter loss.


  • Gogtay, N., Giedd, J.N., Lusk, L., Hayashi, K.M., Greenstein, D., Vaituzis, C., Nugent, T.F., Herman, D.H., Classen, L., Toga, A.W., Rapoport, J.L., Thompson, P.M. (2004). Dynamic Mapping of Human Cortical Development during Childhood Through Early Adulthood, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, 101(21):8174-8179, May 25 2004 [published online, May 17 2004].[Press Release]. [Article, .pdf, 0.7MB] [Time-Lapse Videos]. [High-Resolution Image] [Science Editorial, .pdf, 200KB]

    This paper mapped the sequence of brain development from in children aged 4-22 scanned repeatedly with MRI over 10 years, and created a time-lapse film of the changes (U.S. News & World Report, March 2005; TIME Magazine, NPR, Science magazine).


  • Thompson, P.M., Cannon, T.D., Narr, K.L., van Erp, T.G.M., Poutanen, V.P., Huttunen, M., Lonnqvist, J., Standertskjold-Nordenstam, C.G., Kaprio, J., Khaledy, M., Dail, R., Zoumalan, C.I., Toga, A.W. (2001). Genetic Influences on Brain Structure, Nature Neuroscience, 4(12):1253-1258; Dec. 2001 [published November 5, 2001]. Press Release, Nov. 4, 2001 at 11:00AM PST. Full Article: (.doc, 59 KB); (.pdf, 53 KB); (.pdf with Images, 1.1 MB); (.ram; Streaming Real Audio) (.swf; streaming audio, 413KB)
    [Commentary, .pdf, 94 KB]

    This paper was the first to map the degree to which genes determine human brain structure.


  • Thompson PM, Hayashi KM, Sowell ER, Gogtay N, Giedd JN, Rapoport JL, de Zubicaray GI, Janke AL, Rose SE, Semple J, Doddrell DM, Wang YL, van Erp TGM, Cannon TD, Toga AW (2004). Mapping Cortical Change in Alzheimer's Disease, Brain Development, and Schizophrenia, Special Issue on Mathematics in Brain Imaging (Thompson PM, Miller MI, Ratnanather JT, Poldrack R, Nichols TE, eds.), NeuroImage, September 2004. [Full Article, with Figures, PDF, 2.3 MB] [REVIEW OF METHODS]

    This new method to detect disease effects on the brain has since been used by our collaborators in over 30 papers to detect unsuspected brain changes in HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's disease, mild cognitive impairment, Lewy Body dementia, epilepsy, elderly depression, and in children with autism, fragile X syndrome, Turner syndrome, bipolar illness, 22q11 deletion syndrome (VCFS), Williams syndrome, schizophrenia, and attention deficit disorder.


  • Thompson PM, Bartzokis G, Hayashi KM, Klunder AD, Lu PH, Edwards N, Hong MS, Yu M, Geaga JA, Toga AW, Charles C, Perkins DO, McEvoy J, Hamer RM, Tohen M, Tollefson GD, Lieberman JA, for the HGDH Study Group (2008). Time-Lapse Mapping Reveals Different Disease Trajectories in Schizophrenia depending on Antipsychotic Treatment, Cerebral Cortex, published online, Oct. 8 2008. [New York Times Interview on these findings] [Time-Lapse Animations] [NEW]

    Building on an earlier paper (Thompson et al., PNAS 2001), we found that the dynamic trajectory of brain changes in schizophrenia depends on which drugs patients are taking. Time-lapse films show how different treatments affect the brain over a period of a year.


  • Thompson PM, Lee AD, Dutton RA, Geaga JA, Hayashi KM, Eckert MA, Bellugi U, Galaburda AM, Korenberg JR, Mills DL, Toga AW, Reiss AL (2005). Abnormal Cortical Complexity and Thickness Profiles Mapped in Williams Syndrome, Journal of Neuroscience, 25(16):4146-4158, April 20, 2005. [Article, .pdf, 0.8 MB]

    This paper identified cortical deficits and folding abnormalities in patients with Williams syndrome, showing how the genetic deletion affects the brain and behavior in this neurodevelopmental disorder.