Schizophrenia is a devastating disorder that affects 1-2% of the adult population, with an annual economic burden estimated at over $60 billion in the US. Although hallucinations and delusions are the most salient symptoms of this disease, schizophrenia also involves cognitive deficits in basic cognitive processes, and these basic cognitive deficits are key predictors of long-term outcome. Current medications are effective in treating hallucinations and delusions but do little to improve cognition. Our research aims to understand the specific cognitive and neural functions that are impaired in schizophrenia so that the field can develop and evaluate new treatments.  Schizophrenia research is very challenging and requires teams of basic scientists and clinical researchers.  Our research is therefore carried out in collaboration with Jim Gold, a clinical psychologist at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center, and Cam Carter, a psychiatrist at the UC Davis Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health.  Our lab is also interested in other psychiatric and neurological disorders, including ADHD and anxiety disorders.  Current topics of research include:

  • Hyperfocusing of attention as a central deficit in schizophrenia
  • Impairments of working memory capacity in schizophrenia
  • Impairments of cognitive control and motor processes in schizophrenia
  • Links among attention, emotion, and anxiety
  • Impaired attention and working memory in ADHD

Key Publications

(Grad students and postdocs shown in boldface)

  • Gold, J. M., Fuller, R. L., Robinson, B., McMahon, R. P., Braun, E. L., & Luck, S. J. (2006). Intact attentional control of working memory encoding in schizophrenia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 115, 658-673.
  • Luck, S. J., & Gold, J. M. (2008a). The construct of attention in schizophrenia. Biological Psychiatry, 64, 34-39.
  • Gold, J. M., Hahn, B., Zhang, W., Robinson, B. M., Kappenman, E. S., Beck, V. M., & Luck, S.J. (2010). Reduced capacity but spared precision and maintenance of working memory representations in schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry, 67, 570-577.
  • Hahn, B., Robinson, B. M., Harvey, A. N., Kaiser, S. T., Leonard, C. J., Luck, S. J., & Gold, J. M. (2011). Visuospatial attention in schizophrenia: Deficits in broad monitoring. Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
  • Leonard, C. J., Kaiser, S. T., Robinson, B. M., Kappenman, E. S., Hahn, B., Gold, J. M., & Luck, S. J. (2012). Toward the neural mechanisms of reduced working memory capacity in schizophrenia. Cerebral Cortex.
  • Swaab, T. Y., Boudewyn, M. A., Long, D. L., Luck, S. J., Kring, A., Ragland, J. D., Ranganath, C., Lesh, T., Niendam, T., Solomon, M. S., Mangun, G. R., & Carter, C. S. (2013). Spared and impaired spoken discourse processing in schizophrenia: Effects of local and global language context. Journal of Neuroscience, 33, 15578–15587.
  • Luck, S.J., McClenon, C., Beck, V.M., Hollingworth, A., Leonard, C.J., Hahn, B., Robinson, B.M., & Gold, J.M. (2014). Hyperfocusing in schizophrenia: Evidence from interactions between working memory and eye movements. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 123, 783-795. 
  • Leonard, C. J., Robinson, B. M., Hahn, B., Gold, J. M., & Luck, S. J. (2014). Enhanced distraction by magnocellular salience signals in schizophrenia. Neuropsychologia, 56, 359-366.
  • Erickson, M. A., Hahn, B., Leonard, C. J., Robinson, B. M., Gray, B., Luck, S. J., & Gold, J. M. (2015). Impaired working memory capacity is not caused by failures of selective attention in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 41, 366-373.
  • Sawaki, R., Kreither, J., Leonard, C. J., Kaiser, S. T., Hahn, B., Gold, J. M., & Luck, S. J. (2017). Hyperfocusing on goal-related information in schizophrenia: Evidence from electrophysiology. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 126, 106-116.
  • Kreither, J., Lopez-Calderon, J., Leonard, C. J., Robinson, B. M., Ruffle, A., Hahn, B., Gold, J. M., & Luck, S. J. (2017). Electrophysiological Evidence for Spatial Hyperfocusing in Schizophrenia. The Journal of Neuroscience, 37, 3813-3823.