research

Research Projects

The BRAIN (Bridging Research on Anxiety, Innovations and Neuroscience) Group at the University of Miami seeks to understand how behavior and brain function are different in adults and children with and without anxiety disorders.  Our research studies involve a variety of different methodologies, including brain imaging, computer tasks, interviews, and psychophysiology measures. We hope that our research will help create better treatments for people with anxiety disorders.

Affective Flexibility

Children and adolescents must utilize flexible thoughts, emotions and behaviors to adapt to drastic changes in their mental, physical, emotional and social environments throughout development. To date, most studies examine cognitive flexibility by measuring task-switching and set-shifting abilities. Cognitive inflexibility, detected as increased switch costs and/or neural perturbations during these tasks, has been linked to various mental health disorders in adults (e.g., Remijnse et al., 2013) and children (e.g., Britton et al., 2010). However, affective flexibility, the ability to switch between emotional and non-emotional content or between emotions, is understudied (e.g., Malooly et al., 2013).

Several projects aim to understand the behavioral and neural correlates of affective flexibility across development. Additionally, we aim to understand the relationship between affective flexibility and internalizing symptoms (e.g., anxiety, depressed mood).

Cognitive vs. Affective Flexibility
The goal of this work aims to understand the common and distinct behavioral and neural correlates of cognitive and affective flexibility.
Development of Affective Flexibility
The goal of this work is to understand how different types of affective flexibility change across development. Both behavioral and neural measures are investigated.
Flexibility and Stability
The goal of this work is to understand the relationship between flexibility and stability in the context of emotional task-switching tasks.

Fear and safety learning

The BRAIN (Bridging Research on Anxiety, Innovations and Neuroscience) Group at the University of Miami seeks to understand how behavior and brain function are different in adults and children with and without anxiety disorders. Our research studies involve a variety of different methodologies, including brain imaging, cognitive tasks, psychophysiology measures and self-report measures. We hope that our research will help understand and create better treatments for people with anxiety disorders.

Fear conditioning, extinction and extinction recall
The goal of this work is to delineate the neural circuitry mediating fear and safety learning in normal and pathological development.
Reconsolidation update mechanisms
The goal of this work is to replicate and extend prior research investigating reconsolidation update mechanisms in adults (Schiller et al., 2010, 2013) to youth with and without anxiety disorders.
Avoidance
The goal of this work is to understand the relationship between anticipatory processes and behavioral avoidance.

Attention biases towards threat

Attention biases towards threat have been reported in both pediatric and adult anxiety (Bar-Haim et al., 2007). Threat biases may arise through perturbations in amygdala-prefrontal circuitry (Monk et al., 2006; Monk et al., 2008, Britton et al, 2012). In addition, Attention Bias Modification Treatments (ABMT) are emerging as novel behavioural treatments for anxiety disorders.

Several projects aim at understanding the behavioural, clinical and neural effects of attention biases and attention training.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) + Attention Bias Modification Treatment (ABMT)
In collaboration with the Section on Development and Affective Neuroscience (SDAN) at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and Tel Aviv University, the goal of this project is to investigate the effects of attention training in anxious adolescents undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Comparing ABMT and CBT in anxious adolescents
The goal of this project is to compare the therapeutic and neural effects of attention training and cognitive behavioral therapy in anxious adolescents. as stand-alone treatments and in a cross-over design.
Mood Effects on Attention Training
The goal of this project is to examine the effects of positive and negative mood on attention bias measurement and attention training outcomes.
Stability of Attention
The goal of this work is to delineate the neural circuitry mediating fear and safety learning in normal and pathological development.
University of MiamiDepartment of PsychologyBRAIN Group