Social cognition is defined in various ways, and generally refers to mental operations that underlie social interactions, including perceiving, interpreting, managing, and generating responses to the intentions and behaviors of others. Social cognitive impairments are determinants of community functioning in schizophrenia and are increasingly viewed as targets of intervention. To evaluate social cognition as a treatment endpoint, it is necessary to include reliable and valid social cognitive measures in clinical trials. The current proposal is framed in a translational context, in which we have turned to social neuroscience to select measures that have good validity and that are highly promising for clinical studies with schizophrenia patients. To this end, we assembled scientific experts in experimental psychopathology, social neuroscience, clinical trial methodology, and psychometrics from UCLA, Columbia University, and University of North Carolina. The project has three aims:
The first aim i s to determine the extent to which selected measures from social neuroscience are suitable for use in clinical trials of schizophrenia.
The second aim i s to use these measures to account for unexplained variance in a functioning in schizophrenia.
The third aim i s to better understand the ways in which social cognition acts as a mediator between basic (non-social) cognition and functioning in schizophrenia. These study aims will be evaluated in a sample of 240 schizophrenia patients (tested twice at a 4-week interval) and 50 healthy comparison subjects (tested once). Participants will be recruited equally at two performance sites (Los Angeles and Chapel Hill). This proposal is submitted under NIMH Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) PA-08-255 "Functioning of People with Mental Disorders" and it addresses two objectives of the NIMH Strategic Plan. Within Objective 1 (Promote Discovery in Brain and Behavioral Sciences) this project is consistent with the goal to "deconstruct clusters of complex behaviors and attempt to link these to underlying neurobiological systems." In this study we will: 1) deconstruct basic cognition and social cognition in schizophrenia and 2) differentiate subprocesses within social cognition. Within Objective 3 (Develop new and better interventions), our project is consistent with the goal to "broaden the focus by what is meant by outcome measures in treatment research." We will evaluate measures from social neuroscience for their use in clinical trials of cognition enhancement in schizophrenia with a broad focus on improving overall functioning. The long-term goals of this project are to: 1) understand the determinants of community functioning in schizophrenia and 2) facilitate the development of effective drugs for social cognitive deficits that will help individuals with schizophrenia acquire skills and function better in their daily lives.

Public Health Relevance

Social cognitive impairments are determinants of community functioning in schizophrenia and are increasingly viewed as targets for intervention. We developed the current proposal to translate informative measures from social neuroscience for use in schizophrenia research. The long-term goal of this project is to better understand the determinants of community functioning in schizophrenia, and to facilitate the development of effective treatments for social cognitive deficits to help individuals with schizophrenia function better in their daily lives.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Type
Research Project (R01)
Project #
5R01MH087618-04
Application #
8436300
Study Section
Adult Psychopathology and Disorders of Aging Study Section (APDA)
Program Officer
Morris, Sarah E
Project Start
2010-08-01
Project End
2014-02-28
Budget Start
2013-03-01
Budget End
2014-02-28
Support Year
4
Fiscal Year
2013
Total Cost
$364,052
Indirect Cost
$48,431
Name
University of California Los Angeles
Department
None
Type
Schools of Medicine
DUNS #
092530369
City
Los Angeles
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
90095
Lee, Junghee; Kern, Robert S; Harvey, Philippe-Olivier et al. (2013) An intact social cognitive process in schizophrenia: situational context effects on perception of facial affect. Schizophr Bull 39:640-7
Olbert, Charles M; Penn, David L; Kern, Robert S et al. (2013) Adapting social neuroscience measures for schizophrenia clinical trials, part 3: fathoming external validity. Schizophr Bull 39:1211-8
Green, Michael F; Lee, Junghee; Ochsner, Kevin N (2013) Adapting social neuroscience measures for schizophrenia clinical trials, Part 1: ferrying paradigms across perilous waters. Schizophr Bull 39:1192-200
Kern, Robert S; Penn, David L; Lee, Junghee et al. (2013) Adapting social neuroscience measures for schizophrenia clinical trials, Part 2: trolling the depths of psychometric properties. Schizophr Bull 39:1201-10
Green, Michael F; Penn, David L (2013) Going from social neuroscience to schizophrenia clinical trials. Schizophr Bull 39:1189-91