Our lab's work is guided by three broad goals: (1) studying the developmental psychopathology of anxiety and worry in children, (2) understanding cognitive control deficits underpinning worry, rumination, and other forms of repetitive negative thinking, (3) examining treatment effectiveness and novel treatment interventions for anxiety and mood symptoms, including the use of technology and web based applications for assessment and treatment.
Currently Enrolling Participants for BIG CATs!
Feeling anxious or depressed? Ever feel like your worry is uncontrollable?
Join our 4 week research study for free computerized treatment for symptoms of anxiety and depression!
The Study includes: Two visits to the lab, Free 4-week intervention targeting anxiety and depression, and Symptom reports and referrals at the 2nd visit.
Contact the lab today for more information or click the button below to fill out a screener to see if you qualify!
Biopsychosocial Investigation of Guided Computer Activity Trainings (BIG CATs) on Decreasing Repetitive Negative Thoughts in Adults
Targeting cognitive processes that maintain anxiety and depression may be one method for improving treatment outcomes. Cognitive control deficits have been linked consistently with anxiety and depression, as well as associated symptoms such as rumination and worry. Several preliminary studies have shown that cognitive training targeting cognitive control results in decreased depression, rumination, and anxiety. While these findings are encouraging, several critically important questions remain. Aim 1 of the current study is to compare the Paced Adaptive Serial Addition Task (PASAT), the Attention Training Technique (ATT), and combined treatment on measures of anxiety, depression, and repetitive negative thinking (worry and rumination). Aim 2 of the study will test two components of cognitive control as potential mediators of anxiety and depression symptom change. Aim 3 of the study is to test the efficacy of the intervention at three-month follow up. Aim 4 of the proposed study is to examine participant adherence and responses to an at-home, self-administered format for cognitive control training.
Examining Associations between Impaired Gating of Threat from Working Memory and Affective Symptoms
Recent research has suggested that worry may be related to difficulties gating threat-related information form working memory. If threat-related information enters working memory, it has the potential to bias attention, information processing, and action even after it is removed from the external environment, perpetuating anxiety and worry. The primary aim of this study is to replicate recent findings regarding worry, similar forms of repetitive negative thinking, and gating threat-related information. This study additionally aims to expand the research to examine associations between gating threat-related information and intolerance of uncertainty (IU), repetitive negative thinking, and depression. IU has been found to mediate the symptoms of anxiety disorders and depression and both depression and anxiety have been associated with worry and rumination. Thus, this study will examine whether individuals with difficulty gating threat-related information also have heightened IU and depression. If difficulties gating threat-related information are found to influence these constructs, it will provide additional support for targeting such difficulties in transdiagnostic treatments.
Assessing the Validity of the Attentional Control Scale
In order to draw valid conclusions between cognitive control deficits and psychological disorders it is first important to establish scales that accurately measure the construct of interest. The current study tests a common measure used to assess for cognitive control, the Attentional Control Scale (ACS). Although the ACS is a widely used self-report measure of attentional control abilities, recent research indicates that the ACS is poorly correlated with performance based measures of cognitive control. Thus, the primary aim of the current study is to test the construct validity of the ACS, with secondary aims of better understanding the associations between attentional control and anxiety, depression, distress intolerance, and intolerance of uncertainty. Findings from this study will have implications as to the accuracy of the ACS in assessing attentional control abilities. Furthermore, this study will have implications as to the relationship between attentional control and the presence of symptoms associated with multiple psychological disorders.
Ongoing Collaborative Research
We are fortunate to have an ongoing collaborative relationship with the Houston OCD Program, a top residential treatment program for OCD, anxiety disorders, phobias, depression, and OC spectrum disorders. The program is firmly grounded in a scientist-practioner model and we are actively involved in facilitating the integration of research and practice. We have a number of ongoing studies designed to better understand the symptoms of OCD, their associations with cognition and overall functioning, and predictors and moderators of CBT outcome.
Examining Mechanisms of Change in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Anxiety Disorders
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy has demonstrated both efficacy in randomized clinical trials and effectiveness in clinical samples of individuals with anxiety disorders. However, the active ingredients of CBT responsible for symptom reduction remain largely understudied. We are currently designing a study to examine the underlying mechanisms of symptom improvement in transdiagnostic CBT across anxiety and mood disorders. We plan to use this study to both train clinical psychology graduate students in empirically supported treatments while also providing residents of southern Illinois with state of the art psychological treatment.