Dr. Strauss will be reviewing applications for the admission of a graduate student this year.
Clinical Affective Neuroscience Laboratory (CAN Lab): https://ugacanlab.com
Dr. Strauss directs the Clinical Affective Neuroscience Laboratory and Georgia Psychiatric Risk Evaluation Program (G-PREP). He has authored over 120 publications, and his research has been recognized by several awards, such as the Early Career Award from the National Academy of Neuropsychology, Early Career Award from the American Society for Clinical Psychopharmacology, Wechsler Early Career Award for Innovative Research on Cognition from the American Psychological Foundation, and Young Investigator Awards from the International Congress on Schizophrenia Research and the Schizophrenia International Research Society. He has been funded by >$15M in grants as PI or Co-I from the NIMH, NARSAD, VA MIRECC, APF, NSF, and several internal mechanisms. He serves on the editorial boards of Schizophrenia Bulletin, Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychological Science, and Schizophrenia Research: Cognition.
Dr. Strauss’ program of research examines the phenomenology, etiology, assessment, and treatment of negative symptoms in schizophrenia and youth at clinical high-risk for psychosis.
Negative symptoms are reductions in motivation, emotion, and behavior that are associated with a range of poor clinical outcomes. Unfortunately, interventions have proven ineffective at remediating negative symptoms. The identification of novel neurophysiological and psychological mechanisms that can serve as treatment targets for pharmacological and psychosocial treatments is therefore a significant need in our field, as is the development of new assessments that can measure the construct adequately. Research in the CAN Lab aims to address these needs in the field.
Phenomenology: Our research on phenomenology has focused on determining: 1) whether negative symptoms are best conceptualized as a categorical, dimensional, or hybrid construct; 2) how many domains are part of the negative symptom construct. Our findings indicate that negative symptoms are a hybrid dimensional-categorical construct, such that people with schizophrenia differ in kind above a certain symptom threshold of negative symptoms. Beyond this threshold, negative symptom severity is predictive of individual differences in external correlates, such as cognitive impairment and functional outcome. However, negative symptoms are not unidimensional, as suggested by early factor analytic studies. Rather, negative symptoms are multi-dimensional and these dimensions have distinct pathophysiological and psychological mechanisms. Early work that we and others conducted on the factor structure of negative symptoms supported a two dimensional conceptualization, with dimensions reflecting diminished expression (EXP) and motivation and pleasure (MAP). However, using more advanced mathematical approaches, we have recently found that the construct is best considered in relation to 5 distinct domains (anhedonia, avolition, asociality, blunted affect, alogia). This 5 domain structure has been found across the 3 most contemporary measures (BNSS, CAINS, SANS), across multiple cultures and languages (e.g., English, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese), using multiple mathematical techniques (e.g., CFA, network analysis), and across chronic and clinical high-risk phases of illness. Recently, we have been examining whether these 5 domains have distinct pathophysiological mechanisms and clinical correlates to determine whether a change is needed for DSM-5 negative symptom diagnostic criteria and whether the 5 domains reflect distinct treatment targets.
Etiology: The primary focus of our research is on identifying mechanisms underlying negative symptoms. Our initial studies examined the most straightforward explanation for avolitional symptoms in schizophrenia- that patients fail to engage in activities because they do not find them rewarding; however, this hypothesis was not supported because subjective and neurophysiological response to rewarding stimuli is intact in schizophrenia. This finding lead us to explore why apparently normal hedonic responses do not translate into goal-directed behavior in schizophrenia. We have demonstrated that abnormalities in several aspects of reward processing (e.g., reinforcement learning, effort-cost computation, value representation, uncertainty-driven exploration) that are driven by aberrant cortico-striatal interactions may prevent intact hedonic responses from influencing decision-making processes that are needed to initiate motivated behavior. We have also demonstrated that avolition is associated with dysfunctional cognition-emotion interactions (e.g., memory, attention), emotion regulation abnormalities, social cognition impairments, a reduction in the positivity offset, and anhedonic beliefs. Most recently, we have expanded our work on the etiology of negative symptoms into the psychosis prodrome, where we have found that reward processing deficits predict the severity of negative symptoms in at-risk youth. However, due to the greater propensity for depression in this phase of illness, hedonic deficits play a greater role in negative symptoms in the prodrome than in schizophrenia, propagating forward and creating deficits in other aspects of reward processing that also occur in schizophrenia. We are currently conducting longitudinal studies to determine which reward processing mechanisms associated with negative symptoms predict the emergence of psychotic disorders versus other conditions (e.g., depression) in youth at clinical high-risk for psychosis.
Assessment: The development of next-generation negative symptom assessments has been another key focus of research in the CAN Lab. In 2005, NIMH held a consensus development conference on negative symptoms. A key conclusion of this meeting was that new rating scales were needed to increase chances of observing treatment effects. Two scales resulted from this initiative. Dr. Strauss was co-developer of one of these scales along with Brian Kirkpatrick, the Brief Negative Symptom Scale (BNSS), and served as PI on multiple studies validating the scale. Our lab has also led efforts in translating the BNSS into over a dozen languages and facilitating its primary intended use as an outcome measure in industry sponsored clinical trials. Most recently, Dr. Strauss and Dr. Vijay Mittal co-developed and validated a new scale for those at high-risk, the Negative Symptom Inventory-Psychosis Risk (NSI-PR). The measure is being modified and validated in a multi-site R01. Our lab has also begun developing and validating measures from what we expect to become the third generation of negative symptom assessment: digital phenotyping. This includes active (e.g., EMA surveys, videos, tasks) and passive (e.g., geolocation, accelerometry, ambient sound) negative symptom measurements taken from smart phones and smartbands (ambulatory psychophysiology, accelerometry). We are pioneering novel "big data" analytic approaches to analyzing these novel mobile technology based negative symptom assessments and working to develop a standardized app and norms for the general population and individuals with schizophrenia.We are also exploring whether these tools hold promise as novel risk prediction and monitoring assessments for predicting conversion to a psychotic disorder among clinical high-risk youth.
Treatment: In collaboration with colleagues at multiple institutions, we have conducted clinical trials examining the efficacy of pharmacological treatments for negative symptoms. Based on our studies showing a role for endogenous oxytocin in social cognition deficits and negative symptoms, we examined the efficacy of oxytocin as a treatment for asociality. In multiple clinical trials, oxytocin was not more effective than placebo, and we recently extended this work by demonstrating that combining oxytocin with psychosocial treatment had no added benefit over psychosocial treatment alone. We have partnered with pharmaceutical companies to investigate the efficacy of pharmacological agents for negative symptoms, testing differential efficacy for negative symptom domains. Using a network analytic approach, we recently found that avolition may be the most central symptom to target to produce global improvements in the entire negative symptom construct. Most recently, we are exploring the efficacy of a novel app-based cognitive training intervention for improving emotion regulation abnormalities via a direct mechanistic effect on the prefrontal cortex. We are examining whether increased prefrontal activation leads to better emotion regulation, and whether this translates into reductions in negative symptoms, positive symptoms, and improved functional outcome.
Primary/Used for Several years: Electroencephalography (EEG), Event Related Potentials (ERPs), eye tracking, pupillometry, digital phenotyping, ecological momentary assessment
Secondary/Newer: Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), peripheral psychophysiology (electrodermal activity, electrocardiography), blood and saliva draws for biomarkers (e.g., cytokines, cortisol, oxytocin), computational modeling
Clinical Affective Neuroscience Laboratory (CAN Lab): https://ugacanlab.com
5. R21-MH119438 (PI GP Strauss) 09/01/2019-08/31/2021
Mechanisms Underlying Emotion Regulation Abnormalities in Youth at Clinical High-Risk for Psychosis
This grant explores mechanisms underlying emotion regulation abnormalities and whether these give rise to psychosis risk in youth with prodromal syndromes.
- R01-MH116039 (PI GP Strauss) 03/01/2019-11/30/2023
Prodromal Inventory for Negative Symptoms (PINS): A Development and Validation Study
This grant develops and validates multiple novel measures of negative symptoms in youth at clinical high-risk for psychosis.
- R21- MH112925 (PI GP Strauss) 04/01/2017- 03/31/2020
Modeling anhedonia in schizophrenia: A stochastic dynamical systems approach
This grant applies mathematical models to ecological momentary assessment data to test novel theories about anhedonia reflecting abnormalities in the temporal dynamics of emotion in schizophrenia.
- NARSAD Young Investigator Grant (PI GP Strauss) 01/15/2019-01/15/2021
Brain & Behavior Research Foundation $70,000
Neurocomputational models of psychosis risk
This grant uses computational modeling approaches to examine mechanisms underlying positive and negative symptoms involved with conversion to a psychotic disorder in youth at clinical high-risk for psychosis.
- University of Georgia (PI GP Strauss) 8/1/2019-5/30/2020
Clinical Translational Research Unit Pilot Grant $40,000
Mechanisms of amotivation in youth at clinical high-risk for psychosis
This grant uses fMRI to examine neural circuitry involved with reward processing mechanisms underlying avolition in youth at clinical high-risk for psychosis.
13. University of Georgia (PI GP Strauss) 10/15/2017-6/30/2019
Clinical Translational Research Unit Pilot Grant $25,200
The Effects of Inflammation on Neurocomputationally Derived Reinforcement Learning Profiles in Schizophrenia
This grant examines whether cytokines predict computationally derived measures of reinforcement learning in schizophrenia to index the contributions of inflammation to negative symptoms.
- University of Georgia (PI GP Strauss) 11/01/2017-06/30/2017
Owens Institute for Behavioral Research Pilot Grant $10,000
Neurocomputational Models of Reinforcement Learning in Youth at Clinical High-Risk for Psychosis
The study examines a computational neuroscience framework for understanding delusions and avolition in youth at clinical high-risk for psychosis using computational models of reinforcement learning.
- NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (PI: KH Frost) 08/31/2015-08/30/2018
National Science Foundation $105,600
The Effects of Acute Social Stress on Reward Processing in Humans
This mentored grant examines sex differences in the effects of acute social stress on reward processing in humans, including implicit reinforcement learning, prediction error signaling, value representation, reward anticipation, reward consummation, effort-cost computation, and action selection.
- R34-MH100362 (PI: RW Buchanan) 3/31/13 – 3/31/2016
Combined Oxytocin and CBSST for Social Function in People with Schizophrenia
The study examines the efficacy of oxytocin combined with cognitive behavior therapy social skills training (CBSST) at improving social outcome in people with schizophrenia.
- Wechsler Early Career Grant for Innovative Work in Cognition 10/01/2015-2/30/2017
American Psychological Foundation (APF) $25,000
A Cognitive Neuroscience Account of Low Cognitive Effort in Schizophrenia
This grant explores a novel account of low effort in schizophrenia as resulting from failure to detect cognitive demands and adjust effort levels accordingly to maximize cognitive performance.
- Interdisciplinary Collaborative Grant (PI: GP Strauss) 05/01/2015 – 12/30/2016
State University of New York $10,000
Using Network Analysis to Explore the Temporal Dynamics of Emotion in Schizophrenia.
This study uses network analysis to Ecological Momentary Assessment data in people with schizophrenia to determine whether anhedonia reflects abnormal temporal dynamics of emotional experience.
- Transdisciplinary Areas of Excellence Grant (PI: GP Strauss) 05/01/2015-12/30/2016
State University of New York $20,000
Predicting Conversion to Psychosis in At-Risk Youth: The Role of Stress-Inflammation Interactions.
The study examines whether biomarkers of stress and inflammation following an acute social stressor predict symptoms of attenuated psychosis and conversion to a psychotic disorder in at-risk youth.
- K23-MH092530 (PI: GP Strauss) 09/08/10 – 09/30/2015
Motivated Attention and Avolition in Individuals with Schizophrenia
The study examines early emotion processing abnormalities in schizophrenia, and attempts to identify precise cognitive mechanisms that contribute to abnormal attention-emotion interactions in schizophrenia. Career development activities include training in Event Related Potential and Eye-Tracking technology, as well as the theoretical basis of cognitive/affective neuroscience.
- Department of Veterans Affairs (PI: GP Strauss) 10/01/2011 –09/30/2013
MIRECC VISN 5 $50,000
Oxytocin and Social Cognition in Schizophrenia
The study examined the role of the oxytocin receptor gene and plasma oxytocin levels in deficits in social cognition, emotional experience, emotion perception, and emotional memory in people with schizophrenia.
- Department of Veterans Affairs (PI: GP Strauss) 10/01/2012 –09/30/2013
MIRECC VISN 5 $25,000
A Study of Subjective Emotional Experience and Emotion Regulation in Schizophrenia using an Experience Sampling Approach
The study used experience sampling methodology to examine differences in prospective, retrospective, and in-the-moment reports of positive and negative emotion in people with schizophrenia and healthy controls, as well as the effectiveness of various emotion regulation strategies in the context of every-day life.
- Department of Veterans Affairs (PI: GP Strauss) 10/01/2010 –09/30/2011
MIRECC VISN 5 $25,000
Cognitive Behavioral Social Skills Training to Enhance Consumer Recovery in
The study examined the efficacy of Cognitive Behavioral Social Skills Therapy enhanced with new techniques that foster optimism, hope, mastery, empowerment, and self-esteem for consumer-oriented recovery in schizophrenia.
- T32-MH067533 (PI : WT Carpenter) 07/01/2010-06/30/2015
Multidisciplinary Schizophrenia Research Training
The major goals of the project are to provide young investigators with research training in
schizophrenia research to facilitate their goals of becoming an independent investigator.
- P50-MH082999 (PI: WT Carpenter) 09/01/08- 08/31/12
MPRC Centers for Intervention Development and Applied Research (CIDAR)
This application proposes to establish a Center for Intervention Development and Applied Research (CIDAR) in response to PAR-05-039. Its focus will be to advance drug discovery using innovative evaluation platforms and testing drugs with novel molecular targets to address negative symptoms and cognitive impairments in schizophrenia.
* denotes student/trainee author
1. Raugh*, I.M., Chapman*, H.C., Bartolomeo*, L.A., Gonzalez*, C., & Strauss, G.P. (2019). A comprehensive review of psychophysiological applications for ecological momentary assessment in psychiatric populations. Psychological Assessment, 31, 304-317.
2. Cohen, A.S., Schwartz, E. K., Le, T., Fedechko, T., Kirkpatrick, B., Strauss, G.P. (2019). Using biobehavioral technologies to effectively advance research on negative symptoms. World Psychiatry, 18, 103-104.
3. Azis, M., Strauss, G.P., Walker, E.F., Revelle, W., Zinbarg, R., Mittal, V.A. (in press). Factor analysis of negative symptom items on the Structured Interview for Prodromal Syndromes. Schizophrenia Bulletin.
4. Strauss, G.P., Ahmed, A.O., Young, J.A., Kirkpatrick, B. (in press). Reconsidering the latent structure of negative symptoms in schizophrenia: A review of evidence supporting the five consensus domains. Schizophrenia Bulletin.
5. Strauss, G.P., Esfahlani, F.Z., Kirkpatrick, B., Allen, D.N., Gold, J.M., Visser, K.F., Sayama, H. (in press). Network analysis reveals which negative symptom domains are most central in schizophrenia versus bipolar disorder. Schizophrenia Bulletin.
6. Stewart, E., Gibb, B.E., Strauss, G.P., & Coles, M.E. (in press). Disruptions in the amount and timing of sleep and repetitive negative thinking in adolescents. Behavioral Sleep Medicine.
7. Chapman, H.C., Visser, K.H., Mittal, V.A., Gibb, B.E., Coles, M.E., Strauss, G.P. (in press). Emotion regulation across the psychosis continuum. Development & Psychopathology.
8. Gupta, T., Haase, C.M., Strauss, G.P., Cohen, A.S., Mittal, V.A. (in press). Alterations in facial expressivity in youth at clinical high-risk for psychosis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
9. Lee, M.R., Wehring, H.J., McMahon, R.P., Liu, F., Linthicum, J., Buchanan, R.W., Strauss, G.P., Rubin, L., Kelly, D.M. (In press). The effect of intranasal oxytocin on social cognition measures in schizophrenia: A negative report. Journal of Psychiatry and Brain Science.
10. Bartolomeo*, L.A., Erickson, M.A., Arnold*, L.E., Strauss, G.P. (in press). Frontal Alpha Asymmetry in Youth at Clinical High-Risk for Psychosis. Current Behavioral Neuroscience Reports.
11. Strauss, G.P., Chapman*, H.C., Keller, W.R., Koenig, J.I., Gold, J.M., Carpenter, W.T., Buchanan, R.W. (in press). Endogenous oxytocin levels are associated with impaired social cognition and neurocognition in schizophrenia. Journal of Psychiatric Research.
12. Strauss, G.P., Granholm, E., Holden, J.L., Ruiz*, I., Gold, J.M., Kelly, D.L., Buchanan, R.W. (in press). The combined effects of oxytocin and cognitive behavioral social skills training on social cognition in schizophrenia. Psychological Medicine.
13. Strauss, G.P., Zamani Esfahlani, F., Galderisi, S., Mucci, A., Rossi, A., Bertolino, A., Rocca, P., Maj, M., Kirkpatrick, B., Ruiz, I., Sayama, H. (in press). Network analysis reveals latent dimensions of negative symptoms in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin.
14. Strauss, G.P., Zamani-Esfahlani*, F., Visser*, K.H., Dickinson*, E.K., Sayama, H. (in press). Mathematically modeling emotion regulation failures during psychotic experiences in schizophrenia. Clinical Psychological Science.
15. Ahmed, A.O., Kirkpatrick, B., Galderisi, S., Mucci, A., Rossi, A., Bertolino, A., Rocca, P., Maj, M., Kaiser, S., Bischof, M., Hartmann-Riemer, M.N., Kirschner, M., Schneider, K., Garcia-Portilla, M.P., Mane, A., Bernardo, M., Fernandez-Egea, E., Jiefeng, C, Jing, Y, Shuping, T., Gold, J.M., Allen, D.N., Strauss, G.P. (in press). Cross-cultural validation of the five-factor model of negative symptoms in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin.
16. Kirkpatrick, B., Saoud, J.B., Strauss, G.P., Ahmed, A.O., Tatsumi, K., Opler, M., Luthringer, R., Davidson, M. (in press). The Brief Negative Symptom Scale (BNSS): Sensitivity to Treatment Effects. Schizophrenia Research.
17. Strauss, G.P., Visser*, K.H., Keller, W.R., Gold, J.M., Buchanan, R.W. (in press). Anhedonia reflects impairment in making relative value judgments between positive and neutral stimuli in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research.
18. Chang, W.C., Chu, O.A., Treadway, M.T., Strauss, G.P., Chan, S.K., Lee, E.H., Hui, C.L., Suen, Y.N., Chen, E.Y. (in press) Effort-based decision-making impairment in patients with clinically-stabilized first-episode psychosis and its relationship with amotivation and psychosocial functioning. European Neuropsychophamracology.
19. Yee, C., Strauss, G.P., Allen, D.N, Haase, C., Kimhy, D., & Mittal, V.A (in press). Trait emotional experience in individuals with schizophrenia and youth at clinical high-risk for psychosis. BJPsych Open.
20. Vargas, T., Ahmed, A., Strauss, G.P., Brandes, C.M., Walker, E., Gold, J., Buchanan, R., Mittal, V. (in press) The Latent Structure of Depressive Symptoms Across Clinical High Risk and Chronic Phases of Psychotic Illness. Translational Psychiatry.
21. Chang WC, Westbrook A, Strauss GP, Chu AOK, Chong CSY, Siu CMW, Chan SKW, Lee EMH, Hui CLM, Suen YM, Lo TL, Chen EYH (in press). Abnormal cognitive effort allocation and its association with amotivation in first episode psychosis. Psychological Medicine.
22. Ying-min Zou, Y., Ni, K., Wang, Y., Yu, E., Lui, S.S., Zhou, F., Yang, H., Cohen, A.S., Strauss, G.P., Cheung, E.F.C., Chan, R.C.K. (in press). Effort-Cost Computation in a Transdiagnostic Psychiatric Sample: Differences Among Patients with Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder. PsyCh Journal.
Philosophy of Graduate Training:
My ultimate goal as a mentor is to prepare my graduate students to pursue their chosen career paths in Psychology. As part of this process, I encourage my students to develop a sound theoretical knowledge base in our area of work, gain methodological expertise in the use of cognitive neuroscience methods (e.g., ERP, eye-tracking), build basic research skills (e.g., programming, writing, statistics), and develop strong clinical abilities that will facilitate their clinical research and practice (e.g., diagnostic and symptom interviewing, neuropsychology). I emphasize the importance of developing a niche area and help my students plan and design a series of independent studies that build upon one another, with the goal of creating their own independent program of research. I also invest time in the professional development of my students via regular meetings to discuss strategies for success at different stages of academic careers, and by encouraging them to attend scientific meetings where they can present research and make connections with others in the field. Graduate students who plan to pursue a career in psychosis research will be a strong fit for this lab.