Translational Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab (Carter)

The Translational Cognitive and Affective (TCAN) Laboratory studies the neural mechanisms of attention, memory, and cognitive control. We also investigate the pathophysiological processes underlying psychotic illness, with a particular focus on the neural circuitry supporting cognitive, emotional, and social processes. Our research integrates behavioral, computational, and functional neuroimaging (fMRI, PET, EEG) along with neuromodulation using pharmacology and brain stimulation (tDCS). Finally, we explore how perturbations in the immune system and drugs like cannabis impact individuals with psychotic illness. Prospective volunteers should email their CV/resume and a brief statement of interest to

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Research Topics

ALE Analysis

Meta Analytic Evidence for a General Purpose Cognitive Control Network Subserving Diverse Executive Functions

Niendam TA, Laird AR, Ray KL, Dean YM, Glahn DC, Carter CS.
Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. 2012 Jun;12(2):241-68. article pdf In the largest sample to date, we used quantitative meta-analytic methods to analyze 193 functional neuroimaging studies of 2832 healthy individuals, age 18-60, in which performance on executive function measures was contrasted with an active control condition. A common pattern of activation was observed in the prefrontal, dorsal anterior cingulate and parietal cortex across executive function domains, supporting the idea that a general purpose cognitive control network underlies executive functions.

Cognitive Control

"Cognitive control" is a construct from contemporary cognitive neuroscience that refers to processes that allow information processing and behavior to vary adaptively from moment to moment depending on current goals, rather than remaining rigid and inflexible. Cognitive control processes include a broad class of mental operations including goal or context representation and maintenance, and strategic processes such as attention allocation and stimulus-response mapping. Cognitive control is associated with a wide range of processes and is not restricted to a particular cognitive domain. For example, the presence of impairments in cognitive control functions may be associated with specific deficits in attention, memory, language comprehension and emotional processing. Given its pervasive influence, impaired cognitive control could account for many of the widespread impairments exhibited by people with schizophrenia and other neurodevelopmental disorders.

Duration of Untreated Psychosis

Despite the recognition that duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) is a strong predictor of clinical and functional outcomes, DUP in the United States remains far outside the recommended range. Specialty first episode psychosis (FEP) programs such as the EDAPT (Early Diagnosis and Preventive Treatment) Program in Sacramento have become more common in the U.S. in recent years and represent an important step toward improving outcomes for young people with psychosis. However, within the context of FEP specialty care, standard approaches to outreach, screening and treatment engagement continue to be associated with unacceptably long DUP.

Early Psychosis

Schizophrenia is a chronic, severely debilitating mental illness that affects 1% of the population worldwide. The personal and social costs of this illness are enormous. For example, schizophrenia accounts for ten percent of the permanently and totally disabled persons supported by the disability assistance programs (SSI and SSDI) of the United States Government. Schizophrenia affects males and females equally and typically has its onset in late teens and young adult years. The intermittent episodes of psychosis respond to available treatments and alternate with periods of relative remission but persistent cognitive, social and occupational disabilities are devastating for patients and for their families.