Cognitive deficits are a persistent and debilitating aspect of schizophrenia. Developing pharmacological treatments to reduce these deficits is becoming a primary focus of drug development and clinical trials. The clinical neuropsychological tests most widely used to test for cognitive enhancement efficacy were not designed to track cognitive change over time or be sensitive to behavioral effects of drugs targeting specific neurotransmitter systems. The field needs clinical investigators with the skills to 1) develop and evaluate new tools, with potential for increased sensitivity and efficiency in monitoring cognitive change, which are based on contemporary cognitive neuroscience and animal models of behavioral pharmacology, and 2) apply these tools in fMRI studies to directly assess drug effects on brain systems and provide a more efficient evaluation of drug effects in this population. This line of work offers excellent promise for facilitating the emergence of effective new pharmacological treatments targeting cognitive deficits in schizophrenia. The primary objectives of the proposed career development activities are to enhance the candidate's expertise in the areas of animal models of working memory, cognitive neuroscience, behavioral pharmacology, and functional brain imaging. This will prepare the candidate to lead an independent program of research evaluating cognitive enhancement medications for schizophrenia. Research activities will focus on conducting the behavioral and functional imaging studies to characterize serial order processing paradigms from cognitive neuroscience. This foundation of empirical data is needed to justify research strategies and neurocognitive tools prior to moving forward in evaluating treatment effects on cognition in clinical trial settings. ? ?

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-BDCN-E (02))
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Chavez, Mark
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University of Illinois at Chicago
Schools of Medicine
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