Our Research

The social world is infinitely complex. How do we navigate this complexity towards forming and maintaining meaningful social relationships? How are the processes that contribute to social functioning altered in schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSDs)?

As a social species whose health, wellness, and longevity are largely determined by social connectedness, understanding the solution to this challenge is critical. This is especially true for individuals with a SSD who exhibit difficulties in navigating the social world. This means that individuals with a SSD are at greater risk for experiencing the damaging consequences of social disconnection. Difficulty navigating the social world is not simply a consequence of SSDs either; it is increasingly clear that aspects of the social world may be understood as a partial determinant of SSDs, working in concert with biopsychosocial vulnerabilities to impact the onset and progression of the illness.            

Our program of research seeks to better understand these and related issues. Specifically, how can we better understand the nature of social difficulties in SSDs and their consequences? How can we leverage these insights and the experience of social experts to improve social connection? Exactly what types of social experiences impact risk for SSDs and how do these risk factors inform our understanding of the etiology of SSDs and potential avenues for prevention? We address these and related questions with a theoretically-driven, multimodal approach that includes methods from experimental psychopathology, experience sampling (e.g., daily diary), neuroimaging (e.g., task-based and resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging [fMRI]; real-time fMRI), and meta-analysis.

Other areas of research in the SCP Lab include: nonverbal and neural synchrony, the assessment of mental state understanding, and the impact of the social environment and different experiences (e.g., fiction reading) on mental state understanding and social disconnection.