Amélie M. Achim, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Département de psychiatrie et neurosciences, Faculté de médecine, Université Laval
Researcher, Clinical and cognitive neurosciences axis, CERVO Brain research centre
Understanding the roots of social cognition to help people with schizophrenia and social anxiety.
Prof. Amélie Achim studies the bases of social cognition, which is a set of processes that allow us to understand others and their thoughts, intentions and emotions, and which therefore guide our social interactions. Poor social cognition is linked to the adjustment and integration problems of people with schizophrenia. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying social cognition aims to improve the effectiveness of interventions for these people.
Dr. Achim's team uses behavioral tests of social cognition, combined with functional neuroimaging analysis of the brain (fMRI), to determine the areas of the brain that are involved and needed to perform social cognition tasks.
Pre Achim is also interested in social anxiety, which is a disorder often associated with schizophrenia, and her studies have shown differences in some cognitive processes in patients suffering from this disorder.
Research leading to new avenues of non-pharmacological treatment
Dr. Achim's research has also led to computer-based cognitive remediation approaches to improve cognition in patients with schizophrenia. Cognitive remediation is a form of rehabilitation aiming to improve cognitive functions through cognitive exercises. Her team has demonstrated the effectiveness of this type of therapy to improve the theory of mind (the ability to represent the state of mind of others) significantly, and that this improvement was maintained one year after treatment .
Learn more about Pre Achim's research on her lab's website:
Dr Achim’s research aims to better understand the processes supporting social cognition and social interactions in healthy individuals and to identify which aspects are specifically affected in people with schizophrenia, leading to their difficulties in everyday functioning. To that end, she develops innovative behavioural methods to complement the use of recognized test, with an emphasis on developing ecological or interactive measures. In addition, she also relies of brain imaging techniques such as functional MRI (fMRI) to further distinguish the processes at play and their specific neural correlates.
Lavoie MA, Vistoli D, Sutliff S, Jackson PL, Achim AM. (2016) Social representations and contextual adjustments as two distinct components of the Theory of Mind brain networks: Evidence from the REMICS task. Cortex, 81,176-191.
Achim AM, Sutliff S, Samson C, Montreuil T, Lecomte T (2016) Attribution bias and social anxiety in schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Research: Cognition, 4, 1-3.
Achim AM, Fossard M, Couture S & Achim A. (2015) Adjustment of speaker’s referential expressions to their interlocutor’s likely knowledge and link with theory of mind abilities. Frontier in Psychology, 6:823, 1-11. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00823.
Roy MA, Achim AM, Vallières C, Labbé A, Mérette C, Maziade M, Demers MF & Bouchard RH. (2015) Comorbidity between anxiety disorders and recent-onset psychotic disorders. Schizophrenia Research, 166, 353-354.
Sutliff S, Roy MA & Achim AM. (2015) Social anxiety disorder in recent-onset schizophrenia spectrum disorders: The relation with symptomology, anxiety, and social-rank. Psychiatry Research, 227, 39-45.
Achim AM, Sutliff S & Roy MA. (2015) Treating comorbid anxiety in patients with schizophrenia: A new pathway towards recovery? Psychiatric Times, 22(1), 29-32.
Lavoie MA, Plana I, Godmaire-Duhaime F, Bédard-Lacroix J, Jackson PL & Achim AM. (2014) Performance in multiple domains of social cognition in parents of patients with schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research, 220, 118-124.
Plana I, Lavoie MA, Battaglia M & Achim AM (2014) A meta-analysis and scoping review of social cognition performance in social phobia, post-traumatic stress-disorder and other anxiety disorders. Journal of Anxiety Disorder, 28, 169-177.
Tremblay C, Achim AM, Macoir J & Monetta L (2013) The heterogeneity of cognitive symptoms in Parkinson’s disease: A meta-analysis. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 84(11), 1265-1272.
Lavoie MA, Godmaire-Duhaime F, Bédard-Lacroix J, Jackson PL & Achim AM (2013) Social cognition in first-degree relatives of schizophrenia patients: A meta-analysis and critical review to understand this developing field. Psychiatry Research, 209, 129-135.
Achim AM, Ouellet R, Lavoie MA, Vallières C, Jackson PL & Roy MA (2013) Impact of social anxiety on social cognition and functioning in patients with recent-onset schizophrenia spectrum disorders. Schizophrenia Research, 145, 75-81.
Achim AM, Guitton MJ, Jackson PL, Boutin A & Monetta L (2013) On what ground do we mentalize? Characteristics of current tasks and sources of information that can contribute to mentalizing judgments. Psychological Assessment, 25(1), 117-126.
Development of behavioural tests
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