Martinez Lab

Dr. Martinez’s Multimodal Neuroimaging Lab is focused on the use of electrophysiological and MRI-based measures of neural activity to study the spatio-temporal dynamics of visual processing impairments in schizophrenia in relation to higher-order cognitive deficits such as attention and social cognition.

Research Overview

Cognitive research in schizophrenia has traditionally focused on “high-order” brain regions, such as prefrontal cortex, and on related neuropsychological processes such as executive functioning and/or working memory.

Recent studies involving visual cortex, however, have demonstrated impairments in processes such as sensory gain control and integration, which are manifest particularly within the magnocellular (dorsal stream) system.

These sensory processing deficits underly such processes as object recognition and face identification and thus may play a prominent role in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

Understanding the basic brain mechanisms that underlie this disorder is an important and necessary step towards gaining a more complete understanding of the disease and may lead to improved treatment strategies.

Behavioral, physiological and circuit/cell level approaches are utilized for the assessment of various aspects of visual processing function in schizophrenia and, more recently, in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

To this end, methodologies including event-related potentials (ERP) and spectral perturbations (ERSP), task-based (fMRI) and resting state (rsfMRI) are combined in order to obtain information about both the time-course and neural underpinnings of visual and cognitive processes.

Current Investigations

Ongoing multimodal research projects investigate the following:

  • Motion perception in patients with schizophrenia and individuals at high-risk for psychosis.
  • Face emotion recognition processes in schizophrenia and ASD.
  • Object-guide feature integration (binding) in schizophrenia.
  • Consequences of impaired visual alpha desynchronization in schizophrenia in relation to visual cognition.