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Visual Psychophysiology Laboratory

Summary of Research

The missions of the Visual Psychophysiology Laboratory (VPL) are to increase the understanding of core dysfunctions and underlying brain mechanisms in major psychiatric disorders, and to apply our acquired knowledge in improving impaired behavioral and cortical responses in patients suffering from the disorders.

To understand the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying schizophrenia and autism spectrum disorders, we study visual, visual cognitive and visuomotor processes such as perceptual and biological motion processing and facial recognition. This focus on the visual system provides a window into different brain systems associated with major psychiatric disorders.

Using psychophysical, neurocognitive and neuroimaging approaches, we examine behavioral performance and cortical response in schizophrenia and autism patients, as well as their biological relatives. We are particularly interested in the linkage of the brain and visual behaviors in both normal and diseased populations.


Former Personnel

Current Research Opportunities

  1. Schizophrenic Patients Requested for a Perception and Memory Study
  2. Youths with Psychotic Experience, Ages 13-18, Requested for a Research Study
  3. Youths with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Ages 13-18, Requested for a Research Study
  4. Healthy Youths Ages 13-18, Requested for a Research Study


We collaborate with the following laboratories, the first two of which are located at McLean Hospital.

  1. Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Program (Dr. Dost Ongur)
  2. Department of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University (Dr. Stephan Heckers)
  3. Harvard University Vision Sciences Laboratory (Dr. Ken Nakayama)
  4. Massachusetts General Hospital (Dr. Daphne Holt)

Contact Us

If you would like to learn more about our research and/or are interested in participating in our studies, please contact:
Mr. Tor Ekstrom (617) 855-3609
Dr. Steve Maher (617) 855-3688.

You can also contact Dr. Yue Chen, the director of the laboratory, at or by phone at (617) 855-3615.

The VPL is located in the ground floor of the Centre Building.


Our research program is supported by federal government and private foundations, including the National Institutes of Health, the Rappaport Foundation (McLean Hospital), the Milton Foundation (Harvard University), and Autism Speaks Inc.

Selected Publications