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New Research From Clinical Psychological Science

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Read about the latest research published in Clinical Psychological Science:

Emotional and Behavioral Effects of Participating in an Online Study of Nonsuicidal Self-Injury: An Experimental Analysis

Jennifer J. Muehlenkamp, Lance P. Swenson, Kristen L. Batejan, and Stephanie M. Jarvi

Although there is a strong need for research on nonsuicidal self-injury (NSSI), it can be difficult to obtain institutional review board (IRB) approval for these types of studies. IRBs often worry that asking participants about their NSSI experiences might in some way harm them. Participants in this study — some of whom had engaged in NSSI — completed questionnaires that asked about NSSI behavior or did not ask about NSSI behavior. They reported their levels of emotional distress and the strength and type of emotional reactions they felt before and after completing the questionnaires. The researchers found no evidence that answering questions about NSSI negatively affected participants. This finding indicates that IRBs may need to reassess the way they evaluate studies of NSSI.

Aberrant Neural Connectivity During Emotional Processing Associated With Posttraumatic Stress

Naomi Sadeh, Jeffrey M. Spielberg, Stacie L. Warren, Gregory A. Miller, and Wendy Heller

The current study examined functional connectivity between the amygdala, the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and the hippocampus — brain regions implicated in pathophysiology of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — during emotional processing. Participants who had experienced a traumatic event were assessed for PTSD symptoms. They then completed an emotion-word Stroop task while being scanned in an fMRI machine. PTSD severity was found to moderate amygdala-mPFC coupling during the processing of unpleasant distractors in the task. The researchers also found that re-experiencing symptom severity was related to stronger negative coupling between the hippocampus and anterior insula/putamen. Together, these findings suggest that PTSD symptoms differentially moderate functional connectivity during emotional interference.

Contributions of Feature Binding During Encoding and Functional Connectivity of the Medial Temporal Lobe Structures to Episodic Memory Deficits Across the Prodromal and First-Episode Phases of Schizophrenia

Kristen M. Haut, Theo G. M. van Erp, Barbara Knowlton, Carrie E. Bearden, Kenneth Subotnik, Joseph Ventura, Keith H. Nuechterlein, and Tyrone D. Cannon

Do alterations in the functional connectivity of brain regions involved in learning and memory seen in people with schizophrenia predate or predict the onset of psychosis? People with first-episode schizophrenia (FE), people at clinical high risk for psychosis (CHR), and control participants were scanned in an fMRI machine while they performed a remember-know memory task. FE and CHR participants who went on to develop psychosis — but not control participants or CHR participants who did not go on to develop psychosis — displayed altered functional connectivity between brain regions involved in learning and memory and brain regions involved in auditory-language and visual-imagery processing. This suggests that functional abnormalities during encoding and recollection precede the onset of psychosis.