Clinical Neuroscience of Schizophrenia Laboratory


Dissociating Proactive and Reactive Cognitive Control ProcessesTraffic lights at night

In this functional MRI study, we examine the functional connectivity networks associated with cognitive control, the process by which goals or plans influence our behaviour. The Dual Mechanisms of Control theory posits two modes of cognitive control: proactive (top-down) and reactive (bottom-up). By presenting participants with a colour-naming incongruence task (proactive) and an item recognition (reactive) task, we seek to understand whether these two modes have different underlying networks, or whether certain brain regions are associated with both modes. What we find may have implications for neurological and psychological disorders: if certain populations are more likely to have deficits in one mode versus another, placing more reliance on the spared mode may improve their goal-directed behaviour.


Psychosocial Factors Associated with Cognitive Training Engagement and Outcomes

This study examines whether computerized cognitive training enhances previously untrained cognitive abilities in healthy adults. Despite the popularity of online brain training programs, research on their effectiveness has yielded mixed results. Individuals’ expectations may have important impacts on the process and outcomes of cognitive training. We will examine participants’ beliefs about cognitive training, whether manipulating their expectations about the outcome of cognitive training influences these beliefs, and whether those who enjoy brain games and believe cognition is malleable are more likely to believe cognitive training is beneficial.



Brain, Blood and Behaviour Biomarkers of Bipolar Disorder

The purpose of this study is to better understand what is going on in the brain, behaviour, and blood in people with bipolar disorder compared to community controls. We seek to learn what aspects of the brain, cognition, and blood measures differentiate people with bipolar disorder from healthy controls. This study would be a first step in providing information that could help provide earlier and more accurate diagnoses, and facilitate selection of treatments.



Brain Markers of Social Cognition in Schizophrenia

In this study, we seek to better understand how social cognitive difficulties contribute to difficulties with many kinds of interpersonal interactions and worsen day-to-day functioning in schizophrenia. Currently, however, there is a lack of information on the biological and genetic underpinnings of these impairments. Thus, this study uses a family study design to investigate social cognitive deficits in people with schizophrenia and their family members. This study will increase our understanding of brain structure, structural connectivity between brain regions, and brain activity in individuals with schizophrenia.



Family Study of Behaviour and Cognition in Gambling Disorder

The purpose of this family study is to better understand familial risk factors associated with gambling disorder. Cognitive deficits are found in individuals with gambling disorder and are conceptually related to the behavioural symptoms of the disorder. There is also evidence for familial risk for gambling disorder. This study will shed light on both familial vulnerability and disease-specific effects.



Cognitive Training in Schizophrenia Study

In this study, we explore how cognition, symptoms, and functioning change in people with schizophrenia after a 10-week cognitive training trial. We will compare working memory training to processing speed training, along with a passive control group. This work will augment the literature describing which domains of cognition should be trained to produce the most widespread and durable benefits for individuals with schizophrenia.



Brain Changes after Cognitive Training in Healthy Adults

This study examines the functional and structural changes that occur after cognitive training. Despite a burgeoning number of behavioural studies, relatively few studies have investigated the neural correlates of working memory training. We are conducting a neuroimaging study of working memory training compared to processing speed training in healthy younger adults. Examining changes in brain structure and function as a result of working memory training may provide important information regarding neural plasticity and the relationship between brain and behaviour.