Studying schizophrenia patients is an important component of any research program geared towards understanding the pathophysiology of this illness. However, studying ill patients has a number of challenges and confounds, including the effects of medication, hospitalization, and comorbid disorders such as substance abuse. Studying individuals at risk for schizophrenia provides a means to avoid some of these confounds, and to determine the causal role that specific neurobiological and/or cognitive deficits play in the development of schizophrenia. Thus, in conjunction with John Csernansky of Washington University Medical School, Deanna Barch is using our cognitive and functional imaging paradigms to study siblings of schizophrenia patients who do not yet have the illness, but are not yet through the period of risk. The goals of these study are to determine whether: 1) context processing deficits are present in individuals at risk for schizophrenia; 2) disturbances in PFC function are present in individuals at risk for schizophrenia; 3) more precise measures of specific cognitive function can improve our prediction of risk for schizophrenia over more complex measures used in previous studies; and 4) measures of brain function during cognitive performance can improve our prediction of risk for schizophrenia over purely behavioral markers.
Abstracts of Grants Relevant to this Project:
Prefrontal Cortex Dysfunction as a Risk Factor for the Development of Schizophrenia
Novel Cognitive and Functional Neuroimaging Approaches to Assessing Risk for Schizophrenia