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Schizophrenia is a devastating brain disorder — the most chronic and disabling of the severe mental illnesses. People with schizophrenia often suffer terrifying symptoms such as hearing internal voices not heard by others, or believing that other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. These symptoms may leave them fearful and withdrawn. Learn more about Schizophrenia.

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Featured Studies

Featured studies include only those currently recruiting participants. Studies with the most recent start date appear first.

Family Psychoeducation for Adults With Psychotic Disorders in Tanzania

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: August 6, 2019
Locations: Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania; Mbeya, Tanzania
Eligibility: Ages 18–50, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

The goal of this study is to pilot test a culturally tailored Family Psychoeducation model (KUPAA) for adults with psychotic disorders and their relatives that is appropriate for cultural settings inclusive of both traditional and biomedical ideas about mental illness and that incorporates relatives as co-facilitators of the intervention.

Maximizing the Impact of Neuroplasticity Using Transcranial Electrical Stimulation Study 2

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: July 1, 2019
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Eligibility: Ages 18–50, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

Non-invasive neuromodulation, such as transcranial direct current stimulation ( tDCS) , is emerging as an important therapeutic tool with documented effects on brain circuitry, yet little is understood about h ow it changes cognition. In particular, tDCS may have a critical role to play in generalization, that is how training in one domain generalizes to unlearned or unpracticed domains. This problem has resonance for disorders with cognitive deficits, such as schizophrenia.

Understanding how tDCS affects brain circuity is critical to the design and application of effective interventions, especially if the effects are different for healthy vs. psychiatric populations. In previous research, one clue to the mechanism underlying increased learning and generalization with tDCS was provided by neuroimaging data from subjects with schizophrenia undergoing cognitive training where increases in thalamocortical (prefrontal) functional connectivity (FC) predicted greater generalization.

The premise of this proposal is that increases in thalamocortical FC are associated with the generalization of cognitive training, and tDCS facilitates these increases. The overarching goals of this proposal are to deploy neuroimaging and cognitive testing to understand how tDCS with cognitive training affect thalamocortical circuitry in individuals with and without psychosis and to examine variability in response within both groups.

Study 1 will compare right prefrontal, left prefrontal and sham tDCS during concurrent cognitive training over 12 weeks in 90 healthy controls. Study 2 will be similar in all aspects but will examine 90 patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and include clinical assessments. Results of the study will provide crucial information about location of stimulation, length of treatment, modeled dosage, trajectory and durability needed to guide future research and interventions for cognitive impairments.

Effects of Transdermal Nicotine on Response Inhibition to Emotional Cues in Schizophrenia

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: May 10, 2019
Location: Nashville, Tennessee
Eligibility: Ages 18–65, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

The purpose of this study is to test whether nicotine, a drug that activates receptors called nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the brain, improves the ability to make or withhold responses to faces that are either emotionally neutral or emotionally negative. This study will also test whether the drug affects brain activity while making or withholding responses using electroencephalography. Previous studies in people with schizophrenia have shown that more errors in response to negative emotional cues are related to greater likelihood of impulsive aggressive behavior. Therefore, the aim of this study is to determine whether nicotine might be a new strategy to reduce aggressive behavior. The investigators' goal is 25 individuals with schizophrenia and 25 healthy controls to complete the study at Vanderbilt.

Cognitive Adaption Training-Effectiveness in Real-world Settings and Mechanism of Action (CAT-EM)

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: April 15, 2019
Locations: Dayville, Connecticut; Lauderdale Lakes, Florida; Granite City, Illinois; Lawrenceburg, Indiana; Manchester, New Hampshire; Eugene, Oregon; Providence, Rhode Island
Eligibility: Ages 18–65, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

The investigators propose a cluster randomized effectiveness trial comparing Cognitive Adaptation Training (CAT; a psychosocial treatment using environmental supports such as signs, alarms, pill containers, checklists, technology and the organization of belongings established in a person's home or work environment to bypass the cognitive and motivational difficulties associated with schizophrenia ) to existing community treatment (CT) for individuals with schizophrenia in 8 community mental health centers across multiple states including 400 participants. Mechanisms of action will be examined. Participants will be assessed at baseline and 6 and 12 months on measures of functional and community outcome, medication adherence, symptoms, habit formation and automaticity, cognition and motivation.

Improving Accessibility and Personalization of CR for Schizophrenia

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: July 16, 2018
Locations: Brooklyn, New York; New York, New York
Eligibility: Ages 18–65, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

This project will explore adaptations of treatments for schizophrenia, with the goal of optimizing their effectiveness in real-world clinical settings and readiness for broad deployment. Schizophrenia is associated with cognitive deficits that negatively impact essential areas of daily functioning. NY State Office of Mental Health (OMH) is the first and largest state system of care to implement a statewide program of cognitive remediation (CR), an evidence-based practice for improving cognition and aiding functional recovery. Through Cognitive Remediation to Promote Recovery (CR2PR), CR is now offered in outpatient programs, with plans to expand to more services and further adapt implementation to improve treatment outcomes. This project will work directly with OMH clinics and clinicians to build upon and improve current CR delivery methods. This project will study the impact of two adaptations. One focuses on increasing the accessibility of the program, which participants report is limited by the requirement of twice weekly attendance. This project will compare the feasibility and acceptability of delivering CR in either two clinic-based sessions (Clinic) or one clinic and one remote session (Hybrid) per week. Qualitative interviews will be conducted with stakeholders to explore the impact of the adaptation. The second adaptation is intended to improve personalization of CR by systematically accounting for individual differences in neurocognitive needs. Drawing upon convergent evidence for tailoring CR based on need for early auditory processing (EAP) training, this project examines whether integrating a measure of EAP into the current baseline assessment facilitates personalization of the menu of restorative computer-based exercises used in CR. Feasibility parameters and qualitative/quantitative data analyses of facilitators and barriers to Hybrid CR delivery will together inform further treatment refinement and the design of a larger effectiveness trial of Clinic versus Hybrid CR. This project will examine how EAP assessment is employed by practitioners to personalize the CR treatment plan and examine if EAP improvement is associated with cognitive outcomes in public practice CR settings. Finally cognitive, functional, and service use outcomes in Hybrid versus Clinic CR will be compared.

Improving Cognition Via Exercise in Schizophrenia

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: April 26, 2018
Locations: Stanford, California; Augusta, Georgia; New York, New York; Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Eligibility: Ages 18–55, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

People with schizophrenia display a broad range of cognitive impairments that have been identified as major determinants of poor functioning and disability. The goal of the proposed study is to examine the impact of exercise training on cognition, daily functioning, and biomarkers of cognitive change in people with schizophrenia.

Glutamate Reducing Interventions in Schizophrenia

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: April 17, 2018
Location: New York, New York
Eligibility: Ages 18–30, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

Participants will be administered several doses of POMA (low and high doses) over 14 days to individuals at clinical high risk for developing psychosis and use MRI brain imaging to determine whether these doses of POMA are affecting glutamate levels.

Texting for Relapse Prevention

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: March 12, 2018
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages 18 and Older, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

The purpose of this study is to examine whether Texting for Relapse Prevention (T4RP), a text messaging-based early warming for relapse prevention in people who have schizophrenia/SAD, is associated with fewer relapse symptoms compared to a treatment-as-usual control group.

Neurofeedback Training for High Risk Psychosis

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: March 1, 2018
Location: Hartford, Connecticut
Eligibility: Ages 12–25, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

Young people who are at great risk for developing psychosis have cognitive deficits which are strongly related to functioning in the community. This study looks to target a specific cognitive skill called processing speed to see if improving the ability to process information in a timely manner will improve social function in adolescents and young adults at risk for developing schizophrenia. Half will receive neurofeedback cognitive training targeting processing speed while the other half will receive an active control.

Targeting Auditory Hallucinations With Alternating Current Stimulation

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: November 14, 2017
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Eligibility: Ages 18–70, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

Investigating the effects of non-invasive transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) as a treatment for auditory hallucinations in patients with schizophrenia.

Biomarkers of Conversion Risk and Treatment Response in Early-Stage Schizophrenia

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: September 15, 2017
Location: New York, New York
Eligibility: Ages 18–35, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Schizophrenia (SZ) is a highly debilitating neuropsychiatric disorder of young adulthood onset and a leading cause of disability worldwide. While treatments delivered at early stages of the disorder may be effective at reducing psychosis or altering the course of the disease, there are currently no biomarkers capable of identifying subjects in early stages of SZ who are likely to respond to treatment and would be good candidates for available proactive, symptomatic or future disease-modifying treatments; or those who would not respond and can be spared unnecessary medication exposure. The lack of these vitally important biomarkers provides a compelling rationale for the present multidisciplinary research project, which aims to develop and validate highly promising noninvasive and objective proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS)-based biomarkers for monitoring treatment response in early stages of SZ. In support of the viability of this overall objective is a large body of data, reported by the applicants and others, that show (a) that levels of glutamate (Glu) and - aminobutyric acid (GABA) - respectively, the major excitatory and inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitter systems - are abnormally elevated in medication-naïve and unmedicated first episode and chronic SZ patients; (b) that the effect of treatment with antipsychotic medications in these populations may be to lower or normalize brain levels of both Glu and GABA. To investigate the potential of these in vivo brain Glu and GABA abnormalities to serve as biomarkers of treatment response in early-stage SZ, the applicants propose to use 1H MRS to measure Glu and GABA levels in the largest cohort of medication-free SZ subjects to date, at baseline and following 4 weeks of antipsychotic treatment.

Targeted Cognitive Training in Clinical High Risk (CHR) for Psychosis

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: March 31, 2015
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Eligibility: Ages 15–30, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

This project is a randomized-controlled trial to test the efficacy of computer-based targeted cognitive training (TCT) versus a placebo intervention of commercial computer games in adolescent/young adults at clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis. TCT is designed to optimize learning-induced neuroplasticity in vulnerable neurocognitive systems. A main aim is to test the hypothesis that this neuroscience-guided TCT intervention will improve neural function, and that these neural improvements will improve cognition and functional outcome. CHR participants will be randomly assigned to 40 hours of TCT or placebo computer games completed within 10 weeks. TCT consists of 20 hours of training in cognition, including processing speed, memory, attention, and cognitive control followed by 20 hours of training in social cognition including affect recognition and theory of mind. Neuroimaging, cognition, social cognition, clinical symptoms, and functional status will be assessed at baseline, after 20 hours/5 weeks of cognitive training (mid-intervention), and after 20 hours/5 weeks of social-cognitive training (post-intervention). Cognition, social cognition, symptoms, and functioning will also be assessed at a 9 month follow-up (i.e. 9 months after intervention completion). We predict that TCT will lead to improvements in neurocognitive function and functional status. The results of this study will provide important information about a benign, non-pharmacological intervention for improving cognition and functional outcome in CHR individuals.

Tryptophan MRI in People With Schizophrenia and Healthy Controls

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: September 30, 2014
Location: Catonsville, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages 18–55, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Kynurenic acid (KYNA) is a naturally occurring chemical in the brain. Studies with rodents indicate that levels of KYNA can impact levels of the neurotransmitters glutamate and dopamine. One way to reliably increase KYNA levels is by ingesting the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is a normal part of the human diet. Tryptophan gets metabolized/changed to other chemicals in the body- including KYNA. By giving people 6 grams of tryptophan, the investigators will be able to increase the KYNA level in a controlled way. The investigators will then be able to study the effects of KYNA on neurotransmitters by using cognitive tests and magnetic resonance imaging techniques (measuring brain activity and brain chemistry using the MRI magnet). They will test people using tryptophan and also using a placebo to look for differences. The investigators will test healthy controls and people with schizophrenia to look for differences.

Neuronal Effects of Exercise in Schizophrenia

Study Type: Interventional
Start Date: August 31, 2014
Location: Aurora, Colorado
Eligibility: Ages 21–70, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

This study plans to learn more about how common drugs prescribed to individuals with schizophrenia contribute to weight gain, as well as how exercise and diet impact appetite and the brain's response to food. In this study, the investigators will be evaluating how participants' brains respond to food images as well as asking questions about their food preferences and intake and clinical symptoms. The investigators may also ask participants to complete an exercise or diet intervention to see how this changes brain responses or food preferences.

Imaging Cannabinoid Receptors Using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scanning

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: July 31, 2010
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Eligibility: Males, Ages 18–55, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

The aim of the present study is to assess the availability of cannabinoid receptors (CB1R) in the human brain. CB1R are present in everyone's brain, regardless of whether or not someone has used cannabis. The investigators will image brain cannabinoid receptors using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging and the radioligand OMAR, in healthy individuals and several conditions including 1) cannabis use disorders, 2) psychotic disorders, 3) prodrome of psychotic illness and 4) individuals with a family history of alcoholism, using the PET imaging agent or radiotracer, [11C]OMAR. This will allow us to characterize the number and distribution of CB1R in these conditions. It is likely that the list of conditions will be expanded after the collection of pilot data and as new data on cannabinoids receptor function and psychiatric disorders becomes available.

Those in the cannabis us disorder arm of the study will have a PET scan on at least three occasions: once while smoking as usual, once after 48-hours of abstinence from cannabis, and a final time after 4 weeks of abstinence. Additional scans may be conducted within the 4 weeks and the last scan may be conducted well beyond 4 weeks. Similarly, while most schizophrenia patients may get scanned just once, a subgroup of patients may get scanned more than once. For example to tease out the effects of medications, unmedicated patients may get scanned while unmedicated and again after treatment with antipsychotic medications. Similarly prodromes may get scanned while in the prodromal stage off medications, on medications and after conversion to schizophrenia.

Database Registry to Examine Brain Connections and Brain Function in Mental Disorders and Neural Network Biomarkers for Relational Memory and Psychosis in Schizophrenia

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: March 31, 2010
Location: Dallas, Texas
Eligibility: Ages 18–60, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Several observations have been made with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that characterize brain connections and brain function in individuals with schizophrenia and other mental disorders. For example, research investigating schizophrenia focuses on the dysfunction of connections within and between the medial temporal lobe and the prefrontal cortex as well as other pertinent brain regions. This database registry will allow for the collection of clinical interview data, behavioral data, blood, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data, and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data on individuals with and without mental disorders to better understand how connections in the brain and various brain regions function differently while volunteers perform various cognitive tasks. This is an observational study that is being conducted to collect data and place it in a registry for current and future investigational questions related to imaging in mental disorders.

Functional Relevance of Dopamine Receptors in Healthy Controls and Patients With Schizophrenia: Characterization Through [11C]NNC-112 and [18F]Fallypride Positron Emission Tomography

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: July 17, 2009
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages 18–90, Accepts Healthy Volunteers


- Some illnesses, such as schizophrenia, have effects on brain cells called dopamine receptors, which are required for normal brain function. People with schizophrenia have difficulty thinking and experience hallucinations and delusions. Medications that change brain dopamine receptors can decrease these hallucinations and delusions.

- The cause of schizophrenia and its association with brain dopamine receptors is not known but may be clarified by studying dopamine receptors in people who have dopamine disorders (such as schizophrenia) and those who do not. Researchers are interested in studying the dopamine system to gain a better idea of how dopamine disorders develop, which may lead to better medical care for people with schizophrenia.


- To study the amount and distribution of two types of dopamine receptors.


- Individuals between the ages of 18 and 60 who have schizophrenia.

- Healthy volunteers between the ages of 18 and 90.


- Participants will undergo a full screening, with physical and psychological history, a neurological examination, and blood and urine samples.

- Participants will have a blood flow map of the brain recorded with a positron emission tomography (PET) brain scan. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan will also be performed to determine brain anatomy.

- To study the amount and distribution of dopamine receptors in the brain, participants will receive a small amount of a radioactive chemical in the vein, followed by a PET scan.

- The procedure will be performed twice in two separate sessions, once for [18F]fallypride and once for [11C]NNC-112.

Genetic Study of Schizophrenia

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: July 6, 1995
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages 18–55, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

This large ongoing study at NIMH investigates the neurobiology of schizophrenia by identifying susceptibility genes, evaluating their impact on brain function to better understand how to treat and prevent this illness.

Inpatient Evaluation of Adults With Schizophrenia

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: September 13, 1989
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages 18 and Older, Does Not Accept Healthy Volunteers

The purpose of this study is to understand the biologic basis of schizophrenia and to determine which symptoms are related to the illness itself and which are related to medications used to treat the illness.

Schizophrenia and related psychoses are chronic brain disorders whose prognosis is often poor and whose pathophysiology remains obscure. Brain imaging technologies such s positron emission tomography (PET), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) offer opportunities to study the pathophysiology of psychotic disorders by evaluating brain function. However, the use of anti-psychotic drugs may interfere with the results of such studies. In this study, psychotropic medication will be discontinued in patients for a short period of time to distinguish the effects of the illness on the brain without the interference of the medication's effects on the brain. Given that there is a risk that the patient's symptoms will increase, they are asked to stay on an inpatient unit where the NIMH clinical staff is available to help them 24 hours a day.

This study will be conducted in three phases. In Phase 1, participants will be admitted to the Clinical Center while continuing to take their medication and will undergo diagnostic interviews, physical and laboratory assessments, physiological monitoring, and neuropsychological testing. Behavioral ratings will also be performed and blood and urine samples will be collected. During Phase 2, participants will continue taking medications in a blinded fashion for 8 to 12 weeks. The active medications will be replaced with a placebo (an inactive pill) part of that time. PET, fMRI, and MRI scans will be used to monitor how the continuation or lack of medication affects the brain. Psychological tests will also be given to measure changes in cognition. In Phase 3, participants will have the opportunity for clinical stabilization.

Evaluation of the Genetics of Bipolar Disorder

Study Type: Observational
Start Date: August 4, 1980
Location: Bethesda, Maryland
Eligibility: Ages 18–85, Accepts Healthy Volunteers

This study looks to identify genes that may affect a person's chances of developing bipolar disorder (BP) and related conditions.