Our primary line of research focuses on identifying the variables most critical for role and social functioning among persons with physical and mental health needs. Loneliness and isolation are two key contributors to poorer functioning, especially for those living with serious mental illness. We take a multi-method approach, including ecological momentary assessment, smartphone sensors, neuroimaging, and psychophysiology, to better understand when people feel lonely and how we can best intervene. Additionally, we are interested in the neurobiological mechanisms of loneliness and how these processes may contribute to poorer physical health.
Passive sensing of social isolation: A digital phenotyping approach (NIMH R01 MH122367)
Stable and dynamic neurobehavioral phenotypes of social isolation and loneliness in serious mental illness (NIMH R01Mh125426)
Neurobehavioral mechanisms of social isolation and loneliness in serious mental illness (NIMH R01MH127265)
Cardiovascular regulation through social contact: Examining the impact of loneliness on heart rate variability in schizophrenia (American Psychological Foundation Visionary Award to Fulford and Mote)
Leveraging smartphone sensing technology to identify social isolation in mental illness (Digital Health Initiative Research Award, Hariri Institute for Computing and Computational Science & Engineering)
Mow, J., Gandhi, A., & Fulford, D. (2020). Imaging the "social brain" in schizophrenia: A systematic review of neuroimaging studies of social reward and punishment. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 118, 704-722
Fulford, D., & Mueser, K. T. (2020). The importance of understanding and addressing loneliness in psychotic disorders. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 27, e12383.
Mote, J., Gard, D. E., Gonzalez, R., & Fulford, D. (2019). How did that interaction make you feel? The relationship between quality of everday social experiences and emotion in people with and without schizophrenia. PLoS ONE, 14, e0223003.
Social Motivation and Effort in Psychopathology
Motivational and emotional difficulties are transdiagnostic processes. We are interested in how motivation may vary depending on individual differences and environmental feedback. Specifically, we assess people's perceptions of the costs and potential benefits of a given goal, how these perceptions influence willingness to work for rewards, and the role of emotion in driving these decisions. For example, our work has found that some people who experience mood and thinking problems (e.g., those with psychosis or depression) might over-estimate the work required to obtain a goal, including social rewards, and thus not exert the requisite effort to accomplish their goals. We are particularly interested in understanding how perceptions of social goals may help or hinder social goal pursuit in everyday life.
Modeling dimensions of individual variation in adaptive foraging decisions (NIMH R21 MH124095)
Neural correlates of social motivation and functioning in schizophrenia (Dudley Allen Sargent Student Research Grant to Jessica Mow)
The role of experiential negative symptoms in decreased sensitivity to acute pain in schizophrenia (Dudley Allen Sargent Student Research Grant to Samuel Abplanalp)
Mow, J. L., Gard, D. E., Mueser, K. T., Mote, J., Gill, K., Leung, L., Kangarloo, T., & Fulford, D. (2022). Smartphone-based mobility metrics capture daily social motivation and behavior in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research, 250, 13-21.
Abplanalp, S. J., Mote, J., Uhlman, A., Weizenbaum, E., Alvi, T., Tabak, B. A., & Fulford, D. (2022). Parsing social motivation: Development and validation of a self-report measure of social effort. Journal of Mental Health, 31, 366-373.
Fulford, D., Campellone, T., & Gard, D. E. (2018). Social motivation in schizophrenia: How research on basic reward processes informs and limits our understanding. Clinical Psychology Review, 63, 12-24.
Digital Interventions to Address Motivation and Social Processes
Much of our work in the lab involves the use of technology (primarily smartphones) to understand the richness inherent in the daily lives of people across the spectrum of psychopathology. Ultimately, findings from our studies, as well as those conducted in other research labs, inform the development and testing of interventions aimed at improving social and occupational outcomes for people who struggle with motivational and emotional dysregulation. We assess and test digital health interventions aimed at improving motivation, social skills, cognitive difficulties, and health behaviors in those living with schizophrenia and other health conditions. Current Projects:
Nudging smokers with schizophrenia to quit through engagement in daily activities: Testing the feasibility of a smartophone-based behavioral activation (Mobile-Electronic Health Affinity Research Collaborative Pilot Grant to Fulford and Borrelli)
Enhancing social functioning in schizophrenia through scalable mobile technology (NIMH R21 MH111501)
Evaluation of an online, evidence-based intervention for transdiagnostic paranoia in a community setting: Cross-disciplinary training and implementation (Varda Shoham Clinical Science Trianing Initiative, Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology, to Fulford and Mote)
Fulford, D., Schupbach, E., Gard, D. E., Mueser, K. T., Mow, J., & Leung, L. (2022). Do cognitive impairments limit treatment gains in a standalone digital intervention for psychosis? A test of the digital divide. Schizophrenia Research: Cognition, 28, 100244.
Fulford, D., Gard, D. E., Mueser, K. T., Mote, J., Gill, K., Leung, L., & Mow, J. (2021). Preliminary outcomes of an Ecological Momentary Intervention for social functioning in schizophrenia: Pre-post study of the Motivation and Skills Support (MASS) mobile app. JMIR: Mental Health, 8, e27475.
Weizenbaum, E. L., Fulford, D., Torous, J., Pinsky, E., Kolachalama, V. B., & Cronin-Golomb, A. (2021). Smartphone-based neuropsychological assessment in Parkinson's disease: Feasibility, validity, and contextually-driven variability in cognition. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 17, 1-13.