We have a long history of working closely with vision scientists. We collaborate with Randolph Blake (Vanderbilt), Duje Tadin (Rochester), Joe Lappin (Vanderbilt), Bob Sekuler (Brandeis) and Martin Giese (Tuebingen) to understand the role of perceptual processes in social and clinical abnormalities observed in psychosis.
Social cognitive processes are central to understanding how and why individuals with psychiatric or neurological disorders have impairments in social functioning. In order to link social perceptual and cognitive processes to clinical syndromes and neural circuits, we focus on the role of internal representation in social behavior. One example of this approach can be summarized by our work with Neal Roese, a social psychologist whose work on counterfactual thinking has been enormously influential.
More recently, we have been studying the roles of mental simulation and imitation in social behavior. We also work with Peter Brugger in Zürich to examine the neural bases of social understanding and empathy in healthy people and in individuals with brain lesions.
Stephen Benning ( Vanderbilt) studies psychopathy in the general population. We are working with him to understand the relationship between cognitive and social processes in relation to personality traits.
Control of Action by Mental Representation
With Jeff Schall and Gordon Logan, we approach the problem of abnormal control of action in schizophrenia by examining behavior monitoring. Katy Thakkar is the main force driving these collaborative projects. Our human data can be compared closely with nonhuman primate data obtained from the Schall lab. We aim to link these findings to the pervasive impairments in working memory and internally-guided actions in schizophrenia.
Cortical Functioning in Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's disease results in a wide range of motor, cognitive and affective deficits. With Joseph Neimat, we are investigating working memory deficits in Parkinson's patients who have deep brain stimulation (DBS) device implanted to stimulate the subthalamic nucleus. DBS is a relatively new treatment option when drugs no longer work. When DBS is switched on, there is a remarkable improvement in motor behavior. Although the efficacy of DBS for movement initiation and control is excellent, there is some evidence to suggest that cognitive functioning may get worse. We collect near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) data during a spatial working memory task in these patients to examine frontal cortical activity in relation to DBS stimulation in the subthalamic nucleus.
Psychiatric Neuroimaging Group
Stephan Heckers and Ron Cowan lead the Psychiatric Neuroimaging group at Vanderbilt. We coordinate our research efforts with both labs, and our students attend weekly lab meetings held at the Psychiatric Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Adam Anderson is the DTI expert at the VUIIS. Chris Cannistraci is in charge of the NIRS and makes sure it all works out in the end.
We are conducting a series of experiments with political scientists, John Geer and Cindy Kam to understand the effects of negative ads in voter behavior in relation to personality traits and cognitive factors.
Friends and Colleagues with Expertise in Key Areas
- Nalini Ambady, Dept of Psychology, Tufts University (advises us about the fleeting nature of human behavior)
- Mark Alford, Dept of Physics, Washington University (expert consultant on the beginning of the universe and pessimism)
- Jeanyung Chey, Dept of Psychology, Seoul National University (Alzheimer's Disease, Art, Culture)
- Tim Crow, POWIC, University of Oxford (Evolutionary origins of psychosis and language, Laterality)
- Norman Cook, Dept of Informatics, Kansai University (Laterality, Unified Theory of Music and Emotion)
- Elisa Dias, NKI (Expert in EEG, neurophysiology and happiness; provider of the goiabada)
- Ellen Herberner, Dept of Psychiatry, UIC (expert in emotion processing, schizophrenia and wisdom)
- Sue Hespos, Dept of Psychology, Northwestern (NIRS in babies)
- Jae-Jin Kim, Dept of Psychiatry, Yonsei University Medical School (social processes)
- David Kosson, Dept of Psychology, Rosalind Franklin School of Medicine (our schizoidia expert)
- John Kounios, Dept of Psychology, Drexel University (expert in insight and creativity)
- Jun Soo Kwon, Dept of Neuropsychiatry, Seoul National University (neuroimaging expert)
- Mark Lenzenweger, Dept of Psychology, Binghampton University (expert in personality disorders)
- Janet Levoff, CMHF (advises us on how to interpret our findings in a larger social context)
- Debbie Levy, McLean Hospital (advises us on genetics of schizophrenia and everything else)
- Gill O'Driscoll, Dept of Psychology, McGill University (expert in oculomotor functions, PET and optimism)
- Ann Ragin, Dept of Radiology, Northwestern University (expert in DTI, statistics and art)
- Ric Ricard, Texas A & M University (expert in monitoring, ToM and akido)
- Anne Sereno, Dept of Neuroscience, UTH (expert in neurophysiology of eye movements)
- Tomiki Sumiyoshi, Dept of Neuropsychiatry, Toyama University (expert in pharmacotherapy, Omege-3)
- Mari Watanabe, Dept of Cardiology, St Louis University ( advises us about those matters of the heart)
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