The purpose of this Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award is to request support to provide the candidate with training in cognitive and affective neuroscience to guide his developing research program focusing on deficits in emotional processing in schizophrenia. There is growing evidence that abnormalities in emotional processing may underlie some of the most persistent and debilitating symptoms of schizophrenia: thus, greater insight into the behavioral and biological mechanisms underlying emotional processing has the potential to significantly inform our understanding of these symptoms, and to more effectively develop both pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy treatments to address these symptoms. The primary aim of the research is to examine whether individuals with schizophrenia demonstrate abnormalities in attentional processing, which could significantly influence focus on emotionally positive versus negative features of the environment. In addition, the candidate proposes to develop skills in the use of Eye-Tracking and Event Related Potential (ERP) methodologies in order to assess the time-course and neural circuitry that is critically involved in the cognitive processing of emotional information. The proposed training and research plans are designed to prepare the candidate to: a) design theoretically driven tasks to examine emotion and attention interactions, and b) use these tasks to investigate dysfunctional neural circuitry involved with affective processing in individuals with schizophrenia. To achieve these goals, the candidate will pursue career development activities that focus on development of expertise in affective and cognitive neuroscience literature and methodology, and in ERP analysis and neurophysiology in order to effectively collect and interpret ERP data. Drs. James M. Gold and Gunvant Thaker mentor this work, providing expertise in affective and cognitive neuroscience perspectives, significant experience working with schizophrenia samples in both behavioral, eye- movement, and ERP paradigms, and practice in integrating behavioral and neurophysiological aspects of performance. This training will enable the candidate to develop the skills and expertise necessary to establish an independent line of research examining cognitive, emotional, and neural mechanisms that contribute to the development of schizophrenia.

Public Health Relevance

Schizophrenia is a psychiatric disorder that affects approximately 1% of the world's population. A large proportion of individuals with schizophrenia experience "negative symptoms" (e.g., avolition, anhedonia) at some point in the course of their illness;however, there are few treatments available to remediate these symptoms. Given that negative symptoms are highly associated with social and functional outcomes, it is of critical importance to conduct research into the neural mechanisms associated with these symptoms, with the aim of using this knowledge to inform novel treatments.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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Study Section
Adult Psychopathology and Disorders of Aging Study Section (APDA)
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Chavez, Mark
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University of Maryland Baltimore
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Strauss, Gregory P; Waltz, James A; Gold, James M (2014) A review of reward processing and motivational impairment in schizophrenia. Schizophr Bull 40 Suppl 2:S107-16
Strauss, Gregory P; Catalano, Lauren T; Llerena, Katiah et al. (2013) The processing of emotional stimuli during periods of limited attentional resources in schizophrenia. J Abnorm Psychol 122:492-505
Strauss, Gregory P; Kappenman, Emily S; Culbreth, Adam J et al. (2013) Emotion regulation abnormalities in schizophrenia: cognitive change strategies fail to decrease the neural response to unpleasant stimuli. Schizophr Bull 39:872-83
Strauss, Gregory P; Gold, James M (2012) A new perspective on anhedonia in schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry 169:364-73
Strauss, Gregory P; Llerena, Katiah; Gold, James M (2011) Attentional disengagement from emotional stimuli in schizophrenia. Schizophr Res 131:219-23