Vijay Mittal, Ph.D.

Mittal Photo

2016

Society for Computers in Psychology

Winner

Vijay Mittal, Ph.D.

Northwestern University

Dr. Mittal’s research focuses on identifying individuals at high-risk for psychosis, predicting who may transition to psychosis and refining understanding of the underlying pathophysiology. Additionally, he utilizes the information from these longitudinal studies to develop novel targeted treatments and remediations.

These psychotic disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, depression and bipolar disorder with psychotic features) are devastating for patients and their families as they involve the onset of symptoms and significant impairment during late adolescence- a critical developmental period when youth are only just starting to make a transition into independence. These disorders are highly prevalent, and once diagnosed, involve a chronic course and bleak prognosis. However, an emerging research field suggests that we can now effectively identify those who are at imminently high-risk for psychosis, several years before onset. These ultra high-risk (UHR) adolescents exhibit attenuated psychosis symptoms (e.g., experiencing unusual thoughts, seeing brief shadows, hearing strange sounds). Those who meet criteria for a UHR syndrome have a significant chance of developing schizophrenia or an affective disorder with psychotic features within a two-year period.

Over the past several years, Mittal has given a number of talks about his research to community health care centers and local schools to promote understanding of psychotic disorders and awareness of serious mental illness in youth. He has participated in local and national newspaper interviews, presented at numerous conferences and grand-rounds, and furthermore, encouraged and supported his students to do the same.

Mittal’s lab has published scientific papers, and also worked hard to present the material in a widely accessible manner (focusing on open access journals in several instances). To this aim, he has also published reports focusing on methodology in video format online. He participated as a speaker and host at the annual museum neuroscience and art series in Boulder Colorado. This series is designed to explain how neuroscience concepts pertain to areas of art and creativity, and has been an incredible success in bridging community awareness and enthusiasm for the research. Mittal is now working in Chicago to develop relationships with local media, schools and treatment facilities to continue this important work.

Dr. Mittal is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University and earned his doctorate in clincal psychology from Emory University in 2008.