Our lab is engaged in collaborations with clinical groups to examine behavior in patients with schizophrenia and Parkinsons disease, using tasks which engage frontal-striatal systems to see if patients show deficits in these tasks. Our strategy is to identify behavioural deficits in patient groups, and then to pursue those deficits using neuroscientific tools, to try to understand the mechanisms that underlie the behavioral differences in groups. Specifically, we carry out behavioural studies in patient groups to identify tasks that differentiate patient and control groups. Once these behaviours have been identified, we can use neuroimaging to identify the brain regions that are responding differently in the control and patients groups. We can also use pharmacological manipulations in control groups to try to modify their behaviour to match the patient group. Following that, more detailed techniques can be used to try to examine the circuit mechanisms that underlie the differences in behaviour between the groups. The ultimate goal is to examine the effects of neuromodulators at the micro-circuit level, and to link changes in processing at the microcircuit level to changes in behaviour, to help elucidate the pathology that underlies schizophrenia, Parkinson's disease and related disorders.

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U.S. National Institute of Mental Health
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