The Clinical Neuroscience Lab at Michigan State University (https://cnl.psy.msu.edu), directed by Dr. Katy Thakkar, is seeking a postdoctoral fellow to begin in 2021 (flexible start date). The lab uses behavioral and neuroimaging techniques to study the mechanisms of psychotic disorders. We are particularly interested in characterizing abnormal sensory and motor processes and understanding their relevance for clinical symptoms. Many of our current projects focus on visual perception and eye movements and this position would be suitable for individuals with a clinical background or a background in cognitive neuroscience and/or vision research. The laboratory is located within the Department of Psychology, which provides an excellent research and training environment.
The postdoctoral fellow will have the opportunity to contribute to several ongoing projects as well as to develop independent studies within the broader aims of the lab. For many current projects, data collection is completed or near-completion, and the candidate will have the opportunity to publish papers on this existing data. Other projects are underway, and the candidate will have the opportunity to participate in study design and data acquisition as well. Current projects include:
- A funded study tests contemporary theories of schizophrenia, which posit that symptoms arise from deficits in using prior experience to interpret current sensory input, and uses the visual system as basis for empirical enquiry. This project involves behavioral and fMRI experiments testing experience-dependence in visual processing in individuals on the schizophrenia spectrum and exploring the relationship with symptoms.
- A funded study investigates mechanisms for agency disturbances in schizophrenia (e.g. delusions that one is being controlled by an outside force). The aim of this project is to investigate a potential sensorimotor mechanism thought to support a subjective sense of agency (corollary discharge signaling) in schizophrenia patients at different illness stages and in individuals with bipolar disorder. This project tests corollary discharge signalling in the saccadic eye movement system using behavioral and fMRI experiments.
- Ongoing and planned studies are using pupillometry to assess whether pupil metrics may provide insights into the mechanisms of symptoms—particularly motivational symptoms—and whether pupil measurements may serve a role in early detection or treatment response.
In addition, the candidate will have the optional opportunity to participate in mental health outreach activities and will have the opportunity to acquire post-doctoral clinical hours towards licensure.