The PREP research team consists of an interdisciplinary group from the fields of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Pharmacy. We conduct state-of-the-art research aiming to understand and advance the field of early psychosis. Our research also encompasses related disorders, such as bipolar illness and schizophrenia.

You can find more information about our current studies below.

1.Functional MRI

Disrupted Eye Gaze Perception as a Biobehavioral Marker of Social Dysfunction

PI: Ivy Tso, Ph.D.

Social dysfunction significantly contributes to disability across mental illnesses, undermining patients’ capacities for employment, independent living, and maintaining meaningful relationships. Eye gaze perception, the ability to discriminate others’ gaze direction, is a potential biomarker of social functioning that spans multiple diagnoses. The primate literature shows that gaze perception is a basic building block supporting higher-level social communication and social development, and its disruptions leads to social dysfunction. This study will identify the specific basic deficits in gaze perception , clinical profile, and underlying neural circuits associated with social dysfunction. These will guide new treatments combining specific cognitive training (visual and/or self-referential processing) and brain stimulation (e.g., TMS, HD-tDCS) to improve social functioning in patients.

If you are interested, please email or call (734) 232-4585, or find us on

Multi-Modal Assessment of GABA Function in Psychosis

PI: Stephan Taylor, M.D.

Using converging MRI measures of GABA function (pharmacologic challenge with functional magnetic resonance imaging and magnetic resonance spectroscopy), this project will study GABAergic systems across the psychosis spectrum, establishing critical foundation work for the development of pharmacologic and clinical targets to ameliorate the serious disturbances caused by psychosis syndromes.

If you are interested, please email, or call (734) 232-4166, or find us on

2. Electrophysiology (EEG)

Negative Affect and Neural Correlates of Cognitive Control in Psychosis Spectrum

PI: Takakuni Suzuki, Ph.D.

The project investigates how a brain activity marker of cognitive control measured using electroencephalogram (EEG) may be different in individuals with psychosis spectrum disorder (such as schizophrenia and depression with psychosis). It will also examine how cognitive control relates to different forms of negative affect (such as sadness, anxiety, and distress) assessed in the laboratory as well as in people’s daily lives.

If you are interested, please email or call (734) 936-4958.

3. Treatment Studies

Neuromodulation plus Cognitive Training to Improve Working Memory among Individuals with Serious Mental Illness

PI: Cynthia Burton, Ph.D.

People with serious mental illness (schizophrenia-spectrum and bipolar disorder) often demonstrate neurocognitive impairment; in particular, working memory has been proposed as a shared neurocognitive endophenotype of these disorders. Novel non-pharmacological treatments have shown promise, with some evidence that cognitive remediation can improve neurocognitive symptoms and functional performance. The published effect sizes, however, are somewhat modest, prompting researchers to focus on potential “cognitive enhancers” to boost the effects of training. Neuromodulation, specifically transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), is one potential enhancing treatment that is considered exceptionally safe and cost-effective.

This study aims to investigate the feasibility, acceptability, and initial efficacy of a combined computerized cognitive training and tDCS intervention, using a randomized sham-controlled design including adults aged 18-65 with serious mental illness. Specifically, participants will complete computerized cognitive exercises during ten clinic treatment sessions, and will be randomized to concurrently receive either ‘active’ or ‘inactive’ tDCS. Participants will also complete assessments of cognitive functioning and symptom severity at baseline, post-treatment, and one-month follow-up.

Examining whether tDCS is a realistic treatment option for individuals with psychiatric illness, and whether adding tDCS to a cognitive training paradigm improves working memory performance beyond the positive effects of training alone, will lay the groundwork for additional investigation with larger samples.

If you are interested, please email or call (877) 864-3637, or find us on

Comparison of Coordinated Specialty Care Delivered through Telehealth and Clinic-Based Models: A Pilot Study

Co-PI: Stephan Taylor, M.D., Ivy Tso, Ph.D.

PREP is participating in the NIMH EPINET project, through the AC-EPINET hub, which aims to develop a learning health care system to optimize the care of early episode psychosis patients. To extend work done with the RAISE (Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode) research project and enhance the effectiveness of Coordinated Specialty Care (CSC) treatment programs to deliver superior outcomes for young people in the initial phases of psychotic disorders compared to usual care, we will compare the standard clinic-based care with telehealth delivered care. We will also use a mobile technology-based intervention that our telehealth psychosis participants will use to complete surveys to help us monitor their symptoms between visits and alert clinicians to symptom worsening. Clinicians will be able to see their patient’s data in real-time on a secure web-based dashboard designed and implemented during the study.

Feasibility, Acceptability, and Preliminary Effectiveness of a Cognitive-behavioral Suicide Prevention-focused Intervention Tailored to Adults Diagnosed with Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders

PI: Lindsay A. Bornhemier, M.D.

Suicide is among the leading causes of death for adults with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, with suicide risk estimates being eight times greater than that of the general population. This multi-year NIMH R34 Pilot Effectiveness Clinical Trial aims to modify and evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Suicide Prevention for psychosis (CBSPp) in community mental health.

Interested in participating?


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