Current Research and Scholarly Interests
The core of Dr. O'Hara's research is to investigate how cognitive information processing deficits subserve affective symptoms in psychiatric disorders, and interact with key brain networks integral to these disorders. Deficits in brain networks central to cognitive processing are prevalent in many psychiatric disorders. Findings across neuropsychology and neuroimaging point to impairments that cross traditional diagnostic boundaries. These cognitive information processing dysfunctions manifest in regulatory problems in both traditional cognitive and emotional domains. They impact a patient?s ability to engage effectively, persist in the face of symptomatically effective treatment, and are poorly targeted by current treatments. My body of research has played a key role in shifting the paradigm to defining, assessing and targeting psychiatric disorders more fully based on their cognitive information processing deficits, and underlying neurocircuitry. To do so, I have implemented a translational, interdisciplinary program that encompasses cellular models, brain (sleep, neuroimaging) and behavioral assays of affective and cognitive information processing systems in psychiatric disorders in order to: (1) interrogate the integral role of cognitive processing deficits in the development and exacerbation of affective and psychiatric symptoms; (2) characterize the role of cognitive deficits in treatment response and develop interventions to improve neuropsychiatric symptoms by enhancing cognitive information processing; and (3) identify the physiological bases of these cognitive and affective systems, including mapping cellular phenotypes to brain and behavioral phenotypes.