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Schizophrenia Research Forum: Researcher Profile - Angus MacDonald
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Researcher Profile - Angus MacDonald

First Name:Angus
Last Name:MacDonald
Advanced Degrees:Ph.D.
Affiliation:Department of Psychology University of Minnesota
Street Address 1:N219 Elliot Hall 75 E. River Rd.
Zip/Postal Code:55455
Email Address:
(view policy) 
Member reports no financial or other potential conflicts of interest. [Last Modified: 10 January 2006]
View all comments by Angus MacDonald
Clinical Interests:
Psychology, Schizophrenia
Research Focus:
Brain imaging, Genetics, Glutamatergic transmission
Work Sector(s):
Web Sites:
Reasearcher Bio
Where does madness happen, and why? Dr. MacDonald's Translational Research in Cognitive and Affective Mechanisms (TRiCAM) laboratory explores the numerous problems that come from this simple question, including basic cognitive and affective studies, clinical studies, and studies that develop new scientific methods.

We explore cognitive and affective processes in healthy populations to determine how these mechanisms work. For example, how does the prefrontal cortex control behavior? What emotions are associated with social decisions such as whether to trust someone? Work in the TRiCAM laboratory also explores the neural and genetic basis of these processes. For example, what brain regions are associated with controlling an emotional response? Is a particular gene relevant to inhibiting an automatic action?

Research in the TRiCAM laboratory also examines what happens when cognitive and affective processes break-down in mental illnesses, with an emphasis on psychosis and schizophrenia. For example, what causes a reduction in prefrontal cortex activity in schizophrenia? Are impairments in cognitive and affective processes associated with the genetic liability to schizophrenia?

Methodologies include magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI, DTI), behavioral genetics (twin and family studies), molecular genetics, clinical assessment, cognitive and social experimental testing. We are also engaged in the development of methods for analyzing fMRI, and solutions to psychometric confounds in the measurement of group differences.
Top Papers
Snitz., B.E., MacDonald, A.W., III, Carter, C.S. (2006). Cognitive Deficits in Healthy Biological Relatives of Schizophrenia Patients: A Meta-Analytic Review of Putative Endophenotypes. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 32, 179-194. 2005 Advanced on-line publication doi:10.1093/molbev/msg013.

MacDonald, A.W., III, Carter, C.S., Kerns, J.G., Ursu, S., Barch, D., Holmes, A.J., Stenger, V.A, & Cohen, J.D. (2005). Specificity of Prefrontal Dysfunction and Context Processing Deficits to Schizophrenia in an Unmedicated First-Episode Psychotic Sample. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162, 475-484.

Snitz, B.E., MacDonald, A.W., III, Cohen, J.D., Becker, T., Carter, C.S. (2005). Lateral and Medial Hypofrontality in First-Episode Schizophrenia: Functional Activity in a Medication-Naïve State and Effects of Short-Term Atypical Antipsychotic Treatment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 162, 2322-2329.

Kerns, J.G., Cohen, J.D., MacDonald, A.W., III, Cho, R.Y., Stenger, V.A., & Carter, C.S. (2004). Anterior cingulate conflict monitoring and adjustments in control. Science, 303, 1023-1026.

MacDonald, A.W., III, & Carter, C.S. (2003). Event-related fMRI study of context processing in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex of patients with schizophrenia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 112, 689-697.

MacDonald, A.W., III, Pogue-Geile, M.F, Johnson, M.K. & Carter, C.S (2003). A differential deficit in context processing associated with the genetic liability to schizophrenia: A sibling study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 60, 57-65.

MacDonald, A.W., III, & Carter, C.S. (2002). Cognitive experimental approaches to investigating impaired cognition in schizophrenia: a paradigm shift. Journal of Experimental and Clinical Neuropsychology, 24, 873-882.

Barch, D.B., Carter, C.S., Sabb, F.W., MacDonald, A.W., III, Noll., D.C., Braver, T.S., & Cohen, J.D. (2001). Prefrontal cortex and context processing in medication naïve first episode patients with schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry, 58, 280-288.

MacDonald, A.W., III, Cohen, J.D., Stenger, V.A., & Carter, C.S. (2000). Dissociating the role of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate cortex in cognitive control. Science, 288, 1835-1838.

Carter, C.S., MacDonald, A.W., III, Botvinick, M., Ross, L.L., Stenger, V.A., Noll, D. & Cohen, J.D. (2000). Parsing executive processes: strategic versus evaluative functions of the anterior cingulate cortex. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 97, 1944-1948.

What is your leading hypothesis?
Context processing deficits associated with prefrontal cortical dysfunctiong and the genetic liability to schizophrenia
What piece of missing evidence would help prove it?
Risk alleles in schizophrenia related to the molecular biology of cognitive control, and ultimately the diagnosis
What is your fallback position?
Any number of competing hypotheses, foremost being connectivity dysfunction.

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