The Schallmo lab at the University of Minnesota

Research Objective

 

The Schallmo Lab is driven to understand how psychiatric & neurodevelopmental disorders affect neural processing, using techniques from visual neuroscience.schallmolab

    Areas of Interest

    Visual Perception in Psychosis

    Visual Perception in Psychosis

    Psychosis is associated with abnormal visual experiences, including hallucinations, illusions, and perceptual distortions. As a PhD student, Michael-Paul wrote the initial version of an article on Wikepedia, which summarizes much of the research on visual abnormalities in schizophrenia.

    In particular, our earlier work demonstrated that impairments in early visual processing, which are well-established among patients with schizophrenia, also occur to a lesser degree among patients with bipolar disorder. This finding indicates that such abnormal visual perception is shared across multiple psychiatric diagnoses on the psychosis spectrum. Further, we showed that these same visual abnormalities are not found among unaffected, close biological relatives of either patient group. This suggests that differences in vision may not be tied to genetic risk for these disorders, but rather to a disease process that is common to both diagnoses.

    Our current work as part of the Psychosis Human Connectome Project builds upon these findings, and will characterize early visual processing abnormalities among patients and relatives of individuals with psychosis using high-resolution (7 Tesla) functional MRI, MR spectroscopy, and visual psychophysics. By examining the functional and neurochemical basis of abnormal vision, our work seeks to clarify how psychosis affects perceptual functioning, which may ultimately lead to the development of useful biomarkers for these disorders.

     

    Visual Perception in Autism

    Visual Perception in Autism

    Up to 90% of people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) experience sensory symptoms, including sensitivity to visual stimuli. Our work seeks to uncover the neural basis for abnormal vision in autism, using techniques including functional MRI, MR spectroscopy, and visual psychophysics. Understanding how autism affects vision may help us understand the biological basis of this condition. This opinion piece from Spectrum News does a good job of summarizing our research interests in this area.

    Neural Mechanisms of Early Visual Processing

    Neural Mechanisms of Early Visual Processing

    To uncover how clinical disorders affect the visual system, we must first understand how particular neural processes operate in the healthy or neuro-typical brain. In this vein, we recently published a paper describing how spatial context affects visual motion perception. This study calls into question the interpretation of previous work investigating motion perception within clinical disorders (e.g., autism, schizophrenia, major depression, Alzheimer’s), and suggests that differences in task performance between clinical populations and controls may not reflect differences in neural inhibition per se.

    Research Focus Visual Summary Schallmo Lab

    A visual summary of our latest publications.