Rachel Marsh, PhD

Rachel Marsh, PhD

Research Interest

Research Summary

I direct the Cognitive Development and Neuroimaging Laboratory at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC). I also direct Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) research at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and co-direct the NIMH-funded T32 postdoctoral training program in translational research in child psychiatry at Columbia University.

The overarching goal of my research is to investigate brain-behavior relationships in normal development and in the development of psychiatric disorders that arise during childhood and adolescence. Utilizing multimodal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques, behavioral, and clinical measures, my lab studies self-regulatory control processes and how they change over development and following the remission of symptoms with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in children (R01MH115024) and adults with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Our findings from adults with OCD suggest that an altered balance between task-positive and task-negative regions predicts response to therapy. Such alterations may lead to difficulty controlling both intrusive thoughts and resisting ritualistic behaviors (Pagliaccio et al., 2019; Shi et al., 2021). Our findings from children with OCD similarly point to functional and structural alterations in control circuits that predict response to CBT (Cyr et al., 2020; Pagliaccio et al., 2019), consistent with our theory that interventions that enhance functioning of control circuits in pediatric OCD and anxiety disorders may facilitate brain maturation and lead to better treatment outcomes (Fitzgerald et al., 2020). Our work with large, publicly available datasets further points to alterations in these circuits as marking increased risk for OCD (Pagliaccio et al., 2021).

Most recently, research in my lab has taken a dyadic approach to understanding child development with one NIMH funded study aimed at studying the intergenerational transmission of regulatory deficits from mother to child (R01MH117983) and another aimed at understanding the effects of prenatal SARS-CoV-2 on brain-behavioral indices of socioemotional functioning in mother-infant dyads (R01MH126531). This latter study capitalizes on the COVID-19 Mother Baby Outcome (COMBO) initiative, a large multidisciplinary collaborative that was established at CUIMC to follow SARS-CoV-2 exposed laboring mothers and their newborns and compare their long-term health outcomes to case-matched dyads without prenatal exposure.

Margolis, A. E., Pagliaccio, D., Ramphal, B., Banker, S., Thomas, L., Robinson, M., Honda, M., Sussman, T., Posner, J., Kannan, K., Herbstman, J., Rauh, V., & Marsh, R. (2021). Prenatal environmental tobacco smoke exposure alters children's cognitive control circuitry: A preliminary study. Environment international, 155, 106516. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2021.106516

Shi, T. C., Pagliaccio, D., Cyr, M., Simpson, H. B., & Marsh, R. (2021). Network-based functional connectivity predicts response to exposure therapy in unmedicated adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology, 46(5), https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-020-00929-9

DeSerisy, M., Ramphal, B., Pagliaccio, D., Raffanello, E., Tau, G., Marsh, R., Posner, J., & Margolis, A. E. (in press). Frontoparietal and default mode network connectivity varies with age and intelligence. Developmental cognitive neuroscience, 48, 100928. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.dcn.2021.100928

Fitzgerald, K. D., Schroder, H. S., & Marsh, R. (2021). Cognitive control in pediatric obsessive-compulsive and anxiety disorders: Brain-behavioral targets for early intervention. Biological psychiatry, 89(7), 697–706. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2020.11.012

Pagliaccio, D., Durham, K., Fitzgerald, K. D., & Marsh, R. (2021). Obsessive-compulsive symptoms among children in the adolescent brain and cognitive development study: Clinical, cognitive, and brain connectivity correlates. Biological psychiatry: Cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging, 6(4), 399-409. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bpsc.2020.10.019

Ramphal, B., DeSerisy, M., Pagliaccio, D., Raffanello, E., Rauh, V., Posner, J., Marsh, R., & Margolis, A. (in press). Associations between amygdala-prefrontal functional connectivity and age depend on neighborhood socioeconomic status. Cerebral cortex communications. https://doi.org/10.1093/texcom/tgaa033

ENIGMA-OCD Workgroup. (2021). White matter microstructure and its relation to clinical features of obsessive-compulsive disorder: Findings from the ENIGMA OCD Working Group. Translational psychiatry, 11(1), 173. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01276-z

ENIGMA-OCD Workgroup (2020). Structural neuroimaging biomarkers for obsessive-compulsive disorder in the ENIGMA-OCD consortium: Medication matters. Translational psychiatry, 10(1), 342. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-01013-y

ENIGMA-OCD Workgroup (2020). Subcortical brain volume, regional cortical thickness, and cortical surface area across disorders: Findings from the ENIGMA ADHD, ASD, and OCD working groups. The American journal of psychiatry, 177(9), 834-843. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2020.19030331

Cyr, M., Pagliaccio, D., Yanes-Lukin, P., Fontaine, M., Rynn, M. A., & Marsh, R. (2020). Altered network connectivity predicts response to cognitive-behavioral therapy in pediatric obsessive-compulsive disorder. Neuropsychopharmacology: official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 45(7), 1232–1240. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-020-0613-3

Pagliaccio, D., Alqueza, K. L., Marsh, R., & Auerbach, R. P. (2020). Brain volume abnormalities in youth at high risk for depression: Adolescent brain and cognitive development study. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 59(10), 1178–1188. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2019.09.032

Pagliaccio, D., Cha, J., He, X., Cyr, M., Yanes‐Lukin, P., Goldberg, P., Fontaine, M., Rynn, M. A., & Marsh, R. (2019). Structural neural markers of response to cognitive behavioral therapy in pediatric obsessive‐compulsive disorder. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 61(12), 1299–1308. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcpp.13191

Pagliaccio, D., Middleton, R., Hezel, D., Steinman, S., Snorrason, I., Gershkovich, M., Campeas, R., Pinto, A., Van Meter, P., Simpson, H. B., & Marsh, R. (2019). Task-based fMRI predicts response and remission to exposure therapy in obsessive-compulsive disorder. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(41), 20346–20353. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1909199116

For a complete list of publications, please see PubMed

  • BA, 1996 Psychology, Skidmore College
  • Ph.D., 2003 Experimental Psychology, Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • 2004 Postdoc, Department of Psychiatry, CUMC
  • 2006 Postdoc, Department of Psychiatry, CUMC

Irving Philips Professor of Medical Psychology (in Child Psychiatry) at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC)

  • David Pagliaccio, PhD
  • Kate Durham, PhD
  • Marilyn Cyr, PhD, PsyD
  • Amy Margolis, PhD
  • Xiaofu He, PhD
  • Tracey Shi, BA
  • Martine Fontaine, MA
  • Jenna Patterson, BA
  • Anna Seraikas, BS