Sunday, July 27, 2014


PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Tyrone D. Cannon Ph.D.

Staglin Family Professor
Departments of Psychology, Psychiatry, and Human Genetics
Email: cannon@psych.ucla.edu


Tyrone D. Cannon is the Staglin Family Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, the Carol Moss Spivak Scholar in Neuroscience, and the Director of the Staglin Music Festival Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at UCLA. Dr. Cannon earned his bachelorís degree at Dartmouth College (1985) and his doctoral degree at the University of Southern California (1990). He spent a year in clinical training at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute (1990-1991), before taking his first academic appointment in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where he was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1997. He joined the faculty at UCLA in 1999. Dr. Cannonís research aims to discover the causes of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and to develop effective treatment and prevention strategies based on an understanding of the genetic and neural mechanisms that give rise to these disorders. His studies have focused on elucidating the genetic and non-genetic factors that influence susceptibility to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and delineating their effects on brain structure and functioning across development, with a particular emphasis on gestational (pre- and perinatal) and adolescent periods of brain development A hallmark of his work is the integration of molecular biological and neuroimaging approaches in unique populations such as twins discordant for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and selected members of large prospectively evaluated birth cohorts who have developed one of these conditions in adulthood. Recent work has incorporated transgenic animal models and has extended this translational human-animal genetics and neuroscience strategy to Neurofibromatosis 1, an inherited condition affecting brain structure and function. With support from the Music Festival for Mental Health and the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr. Cannon has established a clinical research center for early detection and prevention of major mental illness in at risk youth based in the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. In that project he and his colleagues are ascertaining individuals who are at risk for imminent onset of psychosis and following them in longitudinal neuroimaging studies aimed at identifying the neural changes that occur proximally to onset of psychosis.
   
FACULTY

Peter Bachman, Ph.D.
Assistant Researcher
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
Email: bachman@psych.ucla.edu

I direct the Clinical Neuroscience Electrophysiology Lab in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, which conducts the Cannon lab’s EEG research.  Specifically, we collect EEG, ERP, and startle data from adolescents and young adults who are at elevated risk for developing a psychotic disorder, or who already meet full diagnostic criteria for a psychotic disorder (e.g., schizophrenia).  Our studies focus on cognitive and developmental correlates of neural functioning in these groups, with particular attention to EEG as a measure of efficiency of large-scale cortical networks.  We are also interested in examining electrophysiological correlates of complex aspects of perception and memory functioning. 
   
Katie Karlsgodt, Ph.D.

Assistant Researcher
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
Email: karlsgodt@psych.ucla.edu

My main research interest is in studying memory processes, both in healthy subjects and in patients with schizophrenia. I'm particularly intrigued by mechanisms underlying verbal working memory as well as the relationship between working memory and long term memory. I'm also interested in the connectivity of the cortical regions that support these systems, and plan to investigate this functional connectivity using fMRI and structural connectivity using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
   
Frank Sun, Ph.D.

Assistant Researcher
Department of Psychology
Email: sun@lifesci.ucla.edu

I am interested in brain structural changes in the early phase of schizophrenia. I’m interested in applying brain mapping and machine learning techniques to brain MRI data.
   
POST DOCTORAL FELLOWS

Sarah Jacobson, Ph.D.

Email: sjacobson@psych.ucla.edu
My interest lies in exploring the earliest detectable neurobiological risk markers for schizophrenia. I use multi-modal imaging techniques and analyses, including, fMRI, DTI, VBM, and functional connectivity to uncover which brain regions and pathways are affected in individuals who are at-risk for developing the illness. My goal in working on the NAPLS project is to elucidate working memory functioning and also resting-state functional connectivity biomarkers in a large, multi-site cohort of adolescent and young adult prodromes.
   
  Kristin Haut

Email: khaut@mednet.ucla.edu
   
ALUMNI


Theo van Erp, Ph.D.

Assistant Researcher,
Department of Psychology
Email: vanerp@psych.ucla.edu

My research interests are in understanding the nature, sources (genetic/environmental), and pathogenesis (development) of the neural mechanisms underlying schizophrenia, through the use of behavioral, brain morphological (MRI), biochemical (MRS), and functional (fMRI) measures. My current research focuses mainly on understanding the sources of hippocampal volume reduction and the nature and the sources of the episodic memory deficit observed in the disorder.
   
Carrie Bearden, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor in Residence
Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
Email: cbearden@mednet.ucla.edu

I am particularly interested in early cognitive and behavioral predictors of psychopathology, and their underlying neuroanatomical correlates. A key area of my research focus involves the dynamic processes that occur during adolescence, which may have special relevance to the development of psychotic illness. I hope that this work will ultimately help to elucidate the neurodevelopmental 'signature' of susceptibility to psychosis, and as such, will allow us to work towards the development of early intervention and, ultimately, preventive strategies.
   
 

Jackie Borg, Ph.D.

Email: jborg@psych.ucla.edu

   
Soohyun Cho, Ph.D.

Email: shcho@ucla.edu

I am interested in the nature and neurobiological substrates of cognitive
deficits and emotional changes related to schizophrenia. My current
research project focuses on relational integration and working memory using behavioral measurements and fMRI. I hope to contribute to the study of the genetic liability of schizophrenia by studying abnormalities in prefrontal functions which are considered as promising endophenotypic markers of the disease.
   
Lauren Ellman, Ph.D.

Email: ellman@psych.ucla.edu

My research focuses on the putative roles of pre- and perinatal events in the etiology of schizophrenia. I currently am involved in two related areas of research. One examining the role of perinatal hypoxia on the developmental course of schizophrenia and the other investigating the role of maternal stress during pregnancy on premorbid functioning and psychotic status in offspring. Both studies employ strategies of exploring the relative contributions of genetic factors by using population-based models in both Finnish and American birth cohorts. Understanding how these early environmental insults affect the neurodevelopmental course of the disorder is critical in efforts towards prevention and treatment.
   
Jacqueline Horwitz, Ph.D.

Email: jacquieh@ucla.edu

My research focuses mainly on emotion and social cognition in normal and disordered populations, and their neural substrates as measured by fMRI. One of my research questions is how these abilities interact with cognitive functions such as memory, attention and executive function. I hope to clarify the nature of the deficit in emotion and social cognitive abilities in schizophrenic populations, how they interact with deficits in working memory and executive function, how these abilities change over the course of schizophrenia, and how they may predict outcome.
   
Chris Jetton

Email: jetton@psych.ucla.edu

I am interested in investigating the functional role of oscillatory neural activity in human information processing, and the possible disruption of this process in schizophrenia. Specifically, I hope to clarify some of the mechanisms by which different patterns of averaged event-related potentials (ERPs) result from ongoing electroencephalographic recording. It may be the case that ERP waveforms differ for people with schizophrenia because of abnormalities in basic processes like phase resetting and latency jitter. Finally, I wish to clarify the impact of these deficits on behavioral measures of information processing, as in perception, attention, and expectation.
   
Tyler Lesh

Email: tlesh@ucla.edu
   
Weidong Li, Ph.D.

Email: weidongli@mednet.ucla.edu

Molecular and cellular basis of schizophrenia. To develop, study and test animal models of schizophrenia.
   
Vijay Mittal, Ph.D.

Email: vijay117@aol.com
   
Tara Niendam, Ph.D.

Email: tniendam@ucla.edu

I am interested in the development of major Axis I psychopathology, specifically schizophrenia, from its first presentation in childhood through its full manifestation in adolescence or adulthood. Currently, a focus in schizophrenia research is on the neurodevelopmental processes and related cognitive deficits associated with the disorder. I would like to use neuropsychological measures to examine how changes in brain structure are related to changes in cognitive functioning. Overall, I think adolescence is an essential period of human development that has received little attention in research and I hope to add to our body of knowledge in this area.
   
  Danielle Schlosser, Ph.D.

Email:dschlosser@mednet.ucla.edu
My research interests consist of examining the clinical and functional
sequelae of individuals at risk for psychosis and identifying
intervention-sensitive factors that can delay and possibly prevent the
onset of psychosis. I am currently working as a co-investigator on a
multisite randomized control trial testing the efficacy of a family
intervention for prodromal youth.
   
Becca Schwarzlose, Ph.D.

Email: beccafs at ucla dot edu

My research interests focus on the study of cognitive processing in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in combination with genetic and neural information. I'm particularly interested in using cognitive neuroscience techniques such as fMRI to identify the stages of cognitive processing that can be disrupted in schizophrenia, resulting in working memory and long-term memory impairments. I'm also interested in using measures of cognitive functioning as endophenotypes for genetic investigations of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder and to elucidate their commonalities and differences.
   
David Shirinyan, Ph.D.

Email: shirinyan@psych.ucla.edu

I'm currently working on neuropsychological test development aimed at assessing executive functioning in patient groups and in healthy populations. Through the use of fMRI, I hope to gain insight into the neural processes underlying executive functions, memory, and emotion processing.
   
GRADUATE STUDENTS

Dylan Gee

Email: dylangee@ucla.edu

My research focuses on the neurobiological substrates of emotional and
neurocognitive mechanisms involved in the development of
psychopathology. I am particularly interested in the period of
adolescence, during which neural development may play a unique role in
the onset of disorders such as schizophrenia. My current work involves
the study of neural activity and connectivity associated with emotion
processing in individuals who are at risk for psychosis. In these
ways, I aim to identify risk factors that can ultimately guide our
understanding of early detection and intervention.
   
Rachel Higier

Email: higierr@ucla.edu

I aim to work towards an empirically based model of psychopathology from a neurobiological perspective. I am interested in combining clinical information with neuroimaging and genetic data to investigate the diagnostic boundaries between Axis I disorders. I am particularly interested in how cognitive and affective impairments that are so often associated with varying psychiatric illnesses differ across and covary among specific disorders. My current work focuses on examining the genetic and neural factors that influence working memory function in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. My goal is to help isolate and then identify the essential biomarkers in order to guide clinical diagnosis and the development of novel treatments.

   
Maria Jalbrzikowski, M.A.

Email: mjalbrzikowsi@gmail.com

I am a Clinical Psychology graduate student working with Dr. Carrie Bearden and Dr. Tyrone Cannon.  My research focuses on social cognition
of individuals at ultra high risk for developing schizophrenia and
adolescents who have already developed schizophrenia.  I am interested in looking at two "high risk" groups: those who are "prodromal" and display a behavioral phenotype (i.e., attenuated positive symptoms) associated with conversion to schizophrenia and individuals who have genetic loci (i.e., 22q microdeletion syndrome) that may also lead to schizophrenia.  I'm interested in exploring how the  developmental trajectory of social cognition in these three groups compares to that of healthy adolescents and how deficits in social cognition may be related to outcome and/or brain changes during adolescence.
   
Amy Jimenez

Email: amjimenez@ucla.edu

My research focuses on examining the neural correlates of socio-emotional information processing and how genes and their variants give rise to individual differences in these processing abilities. I am also interested in deficits of the socio-emotional domain often symptomatic of severe psychopathology; namely, schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. That is, I would like to elucidate how these deficits shed further light on the nature of these processes in healthy individuals and what risk aberrant development of these abilities might confer for such disorders. In future work I hope to utilize my findings to improve social skills and interpersonal relationships training and provide these as targeted, preemptive treatment options for at-risk individuals.
   
Evan Lutkenhoff
Email: lutkenhoff@ucla.edu

I am currently a doctoral candidate in the Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program (IDP).  My research focuses on the role of dysbindin, a schizophrenia susceptibility gene, in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.  I utilize a translational approach to study dysbindin in both patients with schizophrenia and in mice missing the gene.  Specifically, I use MRI to investigate the functional and structural consequences of missing a functional copy of the gene, dysbindin, in null mutant mice.  In addition, I am examining resting state functional connectivity in patients with schizophrenia with respect to specific dysbindin haplotypes.
   

Zach Moran
Email: zdmoran@gmail.com

I am a clinical psychology student interested in the development and testing of neuro-connective models of schizophrenia.  Using EEG, my research seeks to measure functional connectivity and neuro-communicative process via examination of oscillatory patterns such as spectral power and phase coherence.  Ultimately, by examining these processes during performance of behavioral tasks, I hope to discover reliable endophenotypes capable of aiding the analysis of the genetic substrates of the disorder, as well as providing important biomarkers for monitoring the course of the disorder.  Currently, I am studying neuroconnectivity during tests of multisensory memory.

   
Alex Zvinyatskovskiy

Email: alexzv@ucla.edu

I am a doctoral student in the clinical program. I am interested in
genetics of severe psychiatric disorders, specifically schizophrenia.
Currently I am working on modeling additive genetic effects in
schizophrenia. I am looking forward to refining my findings by linking
them to known endophenotypes of this disorder in order to gain a
better understanding of its etiology. It is my hope to apply my
research to early intervention for individuals at risk for developing
schizophrenia.
   
Jen Forsyth

Email: jforsyth12@ucla.edu

   
  Rachael Willhite

Email: Rwillhite@ucla.edu
   
LAB RESEARCH STAFF


Sandra DeSilva, Ph.D.
Email: desilva@psych.ucla.edu

Psychosocial Treatment Co-Director, Outreach Director
Staglin Music Festival Center for the Assessment of Prodromal States (CAPPS)
UCLA, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry
   
  Jamie Zinberg, MA

Email: jzinberg@mednet.ucla.edu

I am interested in exploring the influence of family factors on the development and exacerbation of prodromal symptoms. My research focuses on investigating the impact of families' behaviors and testing and formulating early intervention strategies during the prodrome. I am also interested in studying whether prosocial family and social factors can be enhanced among a clinic-seeking population in a way that attenuates the course of a psychotic illness.
   
 

Angielette Andaya
Clinical Research Coordinator
Email: aandaya@mednet.ucla.edu

   
 

Nichol Ferng
Lab Assistant
Email: nferng@ucla.edu

   
 

Wendy Lau
Lab Assistant
Email: wlau@pshch.ucla.edu

   
 

Anna Xu
Lab Assistant
Email: axu@psych.ucla.edu

   
CAPPS/CNS ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF


 

Cristina Roman
Administrative Assistant
Email: Roman@psych.ucla.edu

   
 

Elisa Rodriguez
Lab Assistant
Email: elrodriguez@mednet.ucla.edu

   
 

If you have any questions about CNS, please call Cristina at 310-794-9673. If you have specific questions about CAPPS, please call the CAPPS main line at 310-206-3466.