Hawai’i Early Assessment Lab (HEAL)

At the Hawai’i Early Assessment Lab, we’re interested in increasing the accuracy of measures of attenuated psychotic experiences, early psychosis, and related phenomena. The goal of our research is to understand the mechanisms involved in the development of psychosis and to use that understanding to improve our ability to predict and prevent future psychosis. Currently, we’re conducting several studies with undergraduates, young people at risk for psychosis, young people with a recent onset of psychosis, and people with chronic schizophrenia.

Most social-cognitive models of psychosis have included two specific components: Aberrant salience (i.e., the unusual or incorrect assignment of significance or importance to stimuli, which is thought to be associated with dopamine dysregulation; Kapur, 2003) and self-processing (i.e., the way in which an individual processes information related to the self).

Our research program focuses on: (a) defining and measuring the constructs of aberrant salience and psychotic-like experiences; (b) defining and measuring anomalous self-experiences, c) examining the relations between anomalous self-experiences, self-relevant information processing, ethnic identity, and psychotic and psychotic-like experiences; and (d) investigating the interaction between aberrant salience and self-processing in psychosis.

Our research uses questionnaire and interview assessments of psychotic symptoms, basic social cognitive neuroscience tasks to measure aberrant salience and self-processing, experimental psychopathology paradigms to understand normal and abnormal belief formation, and advanced statistical techniques to examine the factor structure of psychotic-like experiences.

Professor Cicero plans to accept a graduate student for the 2016-2017 academic year. If you are interested in working with him, please contact him at dcicero@hawaii.edu.