Alex Converse

Alex Converse, PhD

PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Senior Scientist
Director of microPET Imaging

Contact Information:

Waisman Center
1500 Highland Ave
Room T123
Madison, WI 53705
Converse Group
Lab Website: Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior

Research Statement

Applications of PET and PET/MR to better understand the roles of modulatory neurotransmitters, glucose metabolism, and blood flow in the CNS and their interplay with behavior, including the following:

  • Simultaneous dual tracer PET imaging of dopamine release and blood flow alteration in rat and rhesus.
  • Simultaneous PET/MR imaging of dopamine release and blood flow alteration in rat.
  • Response to tai chi training of attention, continuous performance task processing as measured by fMRI, and dopamine transporter (DAT) expression as measured by PET.
  • PET imaging of the effects of maternal exposure to alcohol and stress during gestation: alterations in dopamine receptor and transporter densities and glucose metabolism in executive function in rhesus.
  • PET measurement of dopamine receptor occupancy by a candidate antipsychotic compound in rhesus.
  • PET imaging of the effects of a candidate compound on serotonin receptor and transporter densities and glucose metabolism in sexual behavior in marmoset.
  • PET imaging of glucose metabolism and kappa-opioid receptor density in a parrot arthritis model.
  • PET imaging of 5HT1A binding in rat.
  • PET imaging of microglial activation in a rat model of multiple sclerosis.
  • Technical aspects of small animal PET imaging including digital process control and data acquisition, radiotracer production, image reconstruction, image processing, input function determination, pharmacokinetic modeling, and animal handling issues including positioning, anesthesia delivery, and pulse oximetry.

Representative Publications

Converse AK, Ahlers EO, Bryan TW, Hetue JD, Lake KA, Ellison PA, Engle JW, Barnhart TE, Nickles RJ, Williams PH, DeJesus OT. (2015) Mathematical modeling of positron emission tomography (PET) data to assess radiofluoride transport in living plants following petiolar administration. Plant Methods. In Press.

Fox AS, Oler JA, Shackman AJ, Shelton SE, Raveendran M, McKay DR, Converse AK, Alexander A, Davidson RJ, Blangero J, Rogers J, Kalin NH. (2015) Intergenerational neural mediators of early-life anxious temperament. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 21;112(29):9118-22. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1508593112.

Converse AK, Moore CF, Holden JE, Ahlers EO, Moirano JM, Larson JA, Resch LM, DeJesus OT, Barnhart TE, Nickles RJ, Murali D, Christian BT, Schneider ML. (2014) Moderate-level prenatal alcohol exposure induces sex differences in dopamine d1 receptor binding in adult rhesus monkeys. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 38(12):2934-43. doi: 10.1111/acer.12575.

Hillmer AT, Tudorascu DL, Wooten DW, Lao PJ, Barnhart TE, Ahlers EO, Resch LM, Larson JA, Converse AK, Moore CF, Schneider ML, Christian BT. (2014) Changes in the α4β2* nicotinic acetylcholine system during chronic controlled alcohol exposure in nonhuman primates. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 138:216-9.

Converse AK, Ahlers EO, Travers BG, Davidson RJ. (2014) Tai chi training reduces self-report of inattention in healthy young adults. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 27;8:13.

Hillmer AT, Wooten DW, Tudorascu DL, Barnhart TE, Ahlers EO, Resch LM, Larson JA, Converse AK, Moore CF, Schneider ML, Christian BT. (2014) The effects of chronic alcohol self-administration on serotonin-1A receptor binding in nonhuman primates. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 144:119-26.

Christian BT, Wooten DW, Hillmer AT, Tudorascu DL, Converse AK, Moore CF, Ahlers EO, Barnhart TE, Kalin NH, Barr CS, Schneider ML. (2013) Serotonin transporter genotype affects serotonin 5-HT1A binding in primates. Journal of Neuroscience. 6;33(6):2512-6.

Converse AK, Moore CF, Moirano JM, Ahlers EO, Larson JA, Engle JW, Barnhart TE, Murali D, Christian BT, Dejesus OT, Holden JE, Nickles RJ, Schneider ML. (2013) Prenatal Stress Induces Increased Striatal Dopamine Transporter Binding in Adult Nonhuman Primates. Biological Psychiatry. 1;74(7):502-10.

Murali D, Barnhart TE, Vandehey NT, Christian BT, Nickles RJ, Converse AK, Larson JA, Holden JE, Schneider ML, Dejesus OT. (2013) An efficient synthesis of dopamine transporter tracer [¹⁸F]FECNT. Applied Radiation and Isotopes. 72:128-32.

Converse AK, Aubert Y, Farhoud M, Weichert JP, Rowland IJ, Ingrisano NM, Allers KA, Sommer B, Abbott DH. (2012) Positron emission tomography assessment of 8-OH-DPAT-mediated changes in an index of cerebral glucose metabolism in female marmosets. Neuroimage. 60(1):447-55.

Converse AK, Larsen EC, Engle JW, Barnhart TE, Nickles RJ, Duncan ID. (2011) 11C-(R)-PK11195 PET Imaging of Microglial Activation and Response to Minocycline in Zymosan-Treated Rats. Journal of Nuclear Medicine. 52(2):257-62.

Fox AS, Shelton SE, Oakes TR, Converse AK, Davidson RJ and Kalin NH. (2010) Orbitofrontal Cortex Lesions Alter Anxiety-Related Activity in the Primate Bed Nucleus of Stria Terminalis. Journal of Neuroscience. 30:7023-7027.

Vandehey NT, Moirano JM, Converse AK, Holden JE, Mukherjee J, Murali D, Nickles RJ, Davidson RJ, Schneider ML, Christian BT. (2010) High-affinity dopamine D-2/D-3 PET radioligands F-18-fallypride and C-11-FLB457: A comparison of kinetics in extrastriatal regions using a multiple-injection protocol. Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism. 30(5):994-1007.

Vandehey NT, Garell PC, Hampel JA, Murali D, Smith EM, Davidson R, Converse AK, Nickles RJ and Christian BT. (2009) PET measurement of changes in D2/D3 dopamine receptor binding in a nonhuman primate during chronic deep brain stimulation of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis. Journal of Neuroscience Methods. 176:129- 135.

Christian BT, Vandehey NT, Fox AS, Murali D, Oakes TR, Converse AK, Nickles RJ, Shelton SE, Davidson RJ and Kalin NH. (2009) The distribution of D2/D3 receptor binding in the adolescent rhesus monkey using small animal PET imaging. Neuroimage. 44:1334-1344.