This project based at UCSD will develop and refine new experimental paradigms for assessing the neural basis of sensory processing and attentional mechanisms in the human brain. The primary approach will involve non-invasive electrophysiological recordings of EEG and event-related brain activity from the intact scalp, with converging data from fMRI to be obtained in some experiments. This paradigm development and testing will be carried out at first in normal subjects with the aim of subsequently applying them to the study of sensory and attentional deficits in schizophrenia patients. These experiments will be closely coordinated with parallel studies in monkeys and in schizophrenia patients carried out by other projects in the proposed Conte Center. More specifically, this project will investigate: (1) the role of EEG oscillations of oscillatory hierarchies in selective attention, (2) the neural mechanisms of attention to stimuli that are processed by the magnocellular and parvocellular visual pathways and (3) the neural mechanisms of attention to multifeature objects composed of high and low spatial frequencies. These critical processes of selective attention are likely to be disrupted in schizophrenia patients in association with their early sensory deficits and diminished functional brain connectivity. This approach is innovative in that the results of experiments in norrnal humans will be continually compared with the results of parallel studies in monkeys and in psychiatric patients, which will allow for broader and more incisive interpretations of the emerging data and will permit ongoing design modifications for follow-up studies.

Public Health Relevance

Schizophrenia is a devastating disease that significantly impacts the public health system. Understanding the basic brain mechanisms that underlie this disorder is an important and necessary step towards gaining a more complete understanding of the disease and may lead to improved treatment strategies

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National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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New York University
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