Developmental Functioning in Children and Adolescents with a Family History of Schizophrenia

"I love all of the information I learn about schizophrenia and about different therapies and medication. I like learning about cognitive tests and implications of them. The work is enjoyable, interesting, and doesn’t get boring because there is so much to do always. Also, I love the people and the environment." 

 

Supervising Faculty:

Dr. Gretchen Haas, Ph.D. and Dr. Leslie Horton, Ph.D.

 

Contact: 

Dr. Leslie Horton
(412) 624-5627
Hortonle2@upmc.edu

 

Area of Research:  Clinical psychology, developmental psychology, psychiatry, and cognitive neuroscience

 

Description of Research:

Directed research students will be involved in two studies seeking to understand the development of neurocognitive and social cognitive abilities in children and adolescents ages 5 to 19 who are at risk for psychiatric disorder (i.e. those who have a first-degree relative with schizophrenia) compared with the abilities of typically developing children using a battery of questionnaires, clinical interviews, and computer-based tasks.  One study investigates the neurocognitive and social cognitive abilities in at risk children ages 5 to 19, and the other study investigates stress sensitivity, social cognition, and social behavior in at risk adolescents ages 14 to 17.  This research should inform our understanding of the cognitive and neurobiologic substrates of developmental dysmaturation and social dysfunction in schizophrenia.

 

Duties of Students:

Research assistants will have the opportunity to be trained in administering a battery of neurocognitive tests and other laboratory measures, such a task in which participants perform a public speaking task while having their heart rate responses monitored.  Other responsibilities may include recruiting research participants, attending weekly lab meetings, coding audio- or videotapes of research participants engaged in lab tasks, participating in data entry and analysis, and conducting background research in schizophrenia and its associated neurocognitive deficits.   In some cases, with experience, this may include contributing to grant applications and manuscripts.

 

Additional Requirements:

In addition to meeting the departmental requirements for PSY 1903 Directed Research, we are seeking students who:

  • Are able to commit to at least 2 semesters (1-3 credits each semester)
  • Are current Freshman, Sophomores or Juniors
  • Have strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Have an interest in pursuing careers in neuroscience, psychology, or psychiatry
  • May have a specific interest in neurocognition and behavior in schizophrenia

 

Terms offered: fall, spring and summer

 

Number of Students: 1 or 2