PROIECT 4: STRESS AND EMOTIONAL REACTIVITY Memory deficits, attentional impairment, and disrupted emotional processing are prominent among the core features ofschizophrenia. Although each of these areas has been studied extensively, little research examines their interrelationships or influence on one another. This is an important gap because effective functioning in work, school, and social domains are likely to demand coordination of neurocognitive and affective processes. Work activities, for instance, may require performance of complex tasks while under stress, whereas management of dynamic social situations often occurs in emotionally engaging or emotionally significant contexts. Emanating from our general finding that, motivational systems associated with emotional responding are intact in schizophrenia, irrespective of phase of illness, whereas stress reactivity is heightened and stress recovery may be delayed, the broad goals ofthis research are to determine the malleability of memory when emotion-eliciting images are introduced and to examine the influence of stress on memory, attention and functional outcome. The experimental contexts will be translated from basic research and consist ofa well-characterized social stressor task along with two established paradigms for assessing memory. A multilevel integrative approach will be used to examine relevant behavioral, neural, neuroendocnne, and psychophysiological systems, with the aim of refining key behavioral indicators and biological markers associated with schizophrenia. Efforts to understand the interrelationships among memory, attention, emotion and stress are likely critical in defining the developmental trajectory of schizophrenia, which will be accomplished by assessing patients in the prodromal and first-episode phases of illness. Comparisons between schizophrenia patients across early and chronic phases of illness, in turn, can shed light on the temporal course of when these abnormalities develop. Improved understanding ofthe potentially beneficial influence of emotion on memory and the disruptive impact of stress will assist in the development of interventions that can target specific areas of difficulty in occupational and social situations.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-ERB-N)
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University of California Los Angeles
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