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Multi-PI (Blanchard & Shackman):  Using Multimodal Neuroimaging and Real-World Experience Sampling to Understand Negative Affect and Paranoid Ideation in Psychosis

NIMH 1R01MH121409-01A1.  Dates 06/01/2020 to 04/20/2025 ($3,701,474 total costs).

GRANT ABSTRACT:  Paranoid ideation—the mistaken belief that intentional harm is likely to occur—spans a continuum, from mild suspicion to persecutory delusions. Among individuals with schizophrenia and other psychosis disorders, elevated levels of paranoia are common, debilitating, and challenging to treat. The cues (public environments, strangers) and processes (anxiety) that promote paranoia have grown increasingly clear, but the brain bases of these pathways are unknown, thwarting the development of mechanistic models and, ultimately, the development of more effective or tolerable biological interventions. Leveraging our team’s unique multidisciplinary expertise and productive track record of NIH-sponsored research, this project will use an innovative combination of paranoia assessments, advanced neuroimaging techniques, and smartphone-based experience sampling to clarify the factors governing paranoia. We will enroll the full spectrum of paranoia without gaps or discontinuities—including psychosis patients with frank persecutory delusions and matched community controls. These data will allow us to rigorously examine the hypothesized contribution of brain circuits responsible for triggering anxiety and
evaluating the threat potential of everyday social cues, such as faces. Integrating neuroimaging measures with experience-sampling data will enable us to extend these insights to the real world—a key step to establishing therapeutic relevance—for the first time. It has become increasingly clear that categorical psychiatric diagnoses
(e.g. schizophrenia) present significant barriers to understanding pathophysiology. Our focus on dimensional measures of paranoia overcomes many of these barriers and dovetails with the National Institute of Mental Health’s Strategic Objectives and Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) initiative. This work would provide a potentially transformative opportunity to test and refine theory, deepen our understanding of etiology, guide the development of new translational models, discover new treatment targets, and provide an integrative biopsychosocial framework for unifying research across investigators, approaches, and scholarly guilds.


Project Title: Understanding Social Affiliative Deficits in Psychopathology

Agency:  NIMH (1R01MH110462)

PI:  Jack J. Blanchard

Project Title:  Improving Negative Symptoms and Community Engagement in Veterans with Schizophrenia

Agency:  Veteran Administration RR&D

PI:  Melanie Bennett (Blanchard, Co-I)


Project Title:  Collaboration to Advance Negative Symptom Assessment in Schizophrenia (CANSAS)
Agency: NIMH (R01 MH082839)
PI: Jack J. Blanchard

Project Title:  Schizophrenia Research Training Program
Agency: NIMH (T32 MH020075)
PI: Jack J. Blanchard

Project Title:  Understanding Emotion and Social Impairment in Schizophrenia

Agency: NIMH (K02 MH079231)

PI:  Jack J. Blanchard

Project Title:  Social Anhedonia and Schizophrenia Proneness

Agency:  NIMH (R01 MH051240)

PI:  Jack J. Blanchard

Project Title:  Anhedonia and Emotion in Schizophrenia

Agency:  NIMH (R29 MH051240)

PI:  Jack J. Blanchard

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