Kristi Clark

Assistant Professor

Kristi  Clark

Research Topics

  • Neuroimaging methods development
  • Normal and abnormal brain development
  • Big data approaches to neuroimaging

Research Images

Track-density image of the postmortem hippocampus from an Alzheimer's Disease patient. Colors indicate direction of fiber tracts. Red=left-right; Green=top-bottom; Blue=in-out of plane

Research Overview

My research program uses translational approaches to bridge the gap between basic neuroscience research and clinical interventions, with an ultimate goal of putting clinically relevant and user-friendly tools into the hands of researchers and clinicians who are treating diseases. I am particularly interested in neurodevelopmental applications because the brain changes so dramatically during childhood, meaning that interventions can have more profound impact. My research program can be divided into three components:

(i) Neuroimaging methods development: This component of my research program combines data from the macroscale (in vivo MRI), mesoscale (ex vivo MRI), and microscale (microscopy of immunostained and CLARITY-processed tissue) to develop and validate models of microstructural MRI and connectivity. The microscale aspect is performed by collaborator and NGP faculty member: Dr. Carol Miller.

(ii) Normal and abnormal brain development: We apply multimodal MRI network models that we and others develop to the study of how skill development impacts the structural and functional components of the reading network. To read accurately and fluently requires the fluid mapping among phonemes (sound units), graphemes (orthographic units, e.g. letters), and morphemes (meaning). Currently, we are studying the dynamic reorganization of the brain as children employ different strategies as they learn to read, in children with and without dyslexia.

(iii) Big data approaches to neuroimaging: In the third component of my research program, we create databases of typical development using MRIs. Once the database has been created, we develop statistical models to capture the range of inter-subject variability in brain development. This line of work adapts the same class of statistical models used by the World Health Organization in their height and weight growth charts to work on MRI morphometric data, such as cortical thickness or surface area.

Contact Information

Mailing Address
USC Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute
Keck School of Medicine of USC
University of Southern California
2025 Zonal Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90033

Office Location
Office Phone (323) 442-7246
Lab Location
Lab Phone
Office Location


  • A.B., Washington University in St. Louis, Chemistry and Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology
  • Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, Neuroscience

Selected Publications

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  • Sepehrband F, Alexander DC, Clark KA, Kurniawan ND, Yang Z, Reutens DC. (2016) Parametric probability distribution functions for axon diameters of corpus callosum.  Frontiers in neuroanatomy,10:59. PubMed
  • Dinov ID, Heavner B, Tang M, Glusman G, Chard K, Darcy M, Madduri R, Pa J, Spino C, Kesselman C, Foster I, Deutsch EW, Price ND, Van Horn JD, Ames J, Clark KA, Hood L, Hampstead BM, Dauer W, Toga AW. (2016) Predictive big data analytics: A study of Parkinson's Disease using large, complex, heterogeneous, incongruent, multi-source and incomplete observations. PloS one,11(8):e0157077. PubMed
  • Sepehrband F, Clark KA, Ullmann JF, Kurniawan ND, Leanage G, Reutens DC, Yang Z. (2015) Brain tissue compartment density estimated using diffusion-weighted MRI yields tissue parameters consistent with histology. Human brain mapping, 36(9):3687-3702. PubMed
  • Clark KA, Helland T, Specht K, Narr KL, Manis FR, Toga AW, Hugdahl K. (2014) Neuroanatomical precursors of dyslexia identified from pre-reading through to age 11. Brain : a journal of neurology,137(Pt 12):3136-3141. PubMed
  • Clark KA, Narr KL, O'Neill J, Levitt J, Siddarth P, Phillips O, Toga A, Caplan R. (2012) White matter integrity, language, and childhood onset schizophrenia. Schizophrenia research, 138(2-3):150-156. PubMed