Psychology
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Psychology

Cristina Filannino

Department of Psychology

Cognitive Neuroscience Research Unit

E: Cristina.Filannino@city.ac.uk

Thesis Title: Understanding and translating working memory deficits in Schizophrenia into treatment

Supervisors: Dr. Corinna Haenschel, Prof. Stefan Priebe and Dr, Elliot Freeman

Overview and Research interests

The aim of my project is to explore the underlying causes of working memory deficits in Schizophrenia.

Working Memory (WM) deficits are a core feature in Schizophrenia and they are present even when individuals are not experiencing psychiatric symptoms. These difficulties have a big impact on the quality of everyday life as Working Memory is necessary to carry out simple but fundamental daily actions. Moreover, WM deficits are not treated by medication and thus, they need to be addressed with alternative approaches (Haenschel & Linden, 2011).

My PhD project is aimed to investigate more deeply what the source of these WM failures is. Recent studies have successfully shown that these problems start at a very early visual stage, when memory items have to be perceived and this has an impact on WM performance in schizophrenia (Haenschel et al., 2007; Seymour et al., 2013). Other studies have also demonstrated that people with Schizophrenia show abnormalities in visual perception (Dakin, et al., 2005).

In my PhD project I am therefore exploring the contribution of these perceptual abnormalities to the working memory process. I am currently running an experiment about visual WM. Participants are asked to memorise a brief list of items, but the perceptual characteristics of the items are modulated across conditions. We hypothesise that both the memory load and the perceptual features will have an impact on WM accuracy.

Moreover, I am also recording EEG signals in order to investigate the different phases of WM over time and I am analysing how early visual event related potentials (ERPs) originating in the visual cortex, influence the overall memory process and whether they look different in a patients’ cohort.

Further application of this project would be the development of a perceptual training to target the visual dysfunctions, with the final goal of ameliorating WM deficits in Schizophrenia.

Research interests

  • Working Memory
  • EEG
  • Visual perception
  • Schizophrenia
  • Neuropsychology
  • Brain stimulation

Conference Contributions

  • Filannino, C., Freeman, E., Parton, A., Haenschel, C. (2017). The effects of individual variations in Contrast Sensitivity on Working Memory: An ERP study. Poster presentation at Cognitive Neuroscience Society Annual Meeting, 25-28th March 2017, San Francisco, USA.
  • Filannino, C., Freeman, E., Laxhman, N., Haenschel, C. (2016). Effects of abnormal perception on Working Memory deficits in Schizophrenia and their impact on cognition and clinical symptoms. Poster presentation at Robert Sommer Award Conference, 3-5th November 2016, Giessen, Germany
  • Filannino, C., Borghini, G., Candini, M., Romei, V., Walsh, V., Husain, M., Zokaei, N., Cappelletti, M. (2015). Alpha stimulation differentially modulates inhibitory abilities across the life span. Poster presentation at Magstim Neuroscience Conference 2015, Oxford, UK; European Workshop on Cognitive Neuropsychology 2015, Bressanone, Italy

Awards

  • 2014: PhD scholarship funded by Mental Health Research UK
  • 2014: Research award for postgraduate students funded by La Sapienza, University of Rome