September 20, 2010

2010 Dissertation Award Winners

Faith Brozovich, Temple University
Examining mental imagery and post-event processing among socially anxious individuals
Advisor: Richard Heimberg, Ph.D.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is characterized by an intense fear of negative evaluation from others in social and/or performance situations according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR, American Psychiatric Association, 2000). Research has demonstrated that socially anxious individuals’ post-event processing, or post-mortem review of a social situation, often affects their levels of anxiety, negative emotions, interpretations, and memories of events (for a review see Brozovich & Heimberg, 2008). Furthermore, research has shown that processing negative descriptions using imagery is more emotion-evoking than semantic processing of the same material (Holmes & Mathews, 2005). The present study aims to investigate post-event processing involving mental imagery and its effects on mood, anxiety, and interpretations of social and nonsocial events. Socially anxious and control participants will be told they will give a 5 min impromptu speech at the end of the experimental session. After they are told about the upcoming speech, they will be randomly assigned to one of three manipulation conditions: post-event processing imagery (PEP-Imagery), post-event processing semantic (PEP-Semantic), or control. In the post-event processing conditions they will be recalling a past anxiety-provoking speech as well as thinking about the anticipated speech either using imagery (PEP-Imagery), or focusing on the meaning (PEP-Semantic). Following this the participants will complete a variety of affect, anxiety and interpretation measures. We predict socially anxious individuals in the PEP-Imagery condition will show the greatest increases in anxiety and negative affect as well as heightened interpretation biases.

Kristen Gainey, University of Iowa
A lower order structural examination of the neuroticism/negative emotionality domain: Relations with internalizing symptoms and selected clinical traits
Advisor: David Watson, Ph.D.
The study of how personality traits relate to psychopathology has flourished in the past three decades, with strong evidence for systematic links between personality and psychological disorders. Great progress has been made in our understanding of the associations between broad traits and the mood and anxiety disorders (or internalizing disorders). In particular, it is clear that the broad trait neuroticism/negative emotionality (N/NE; stress reactivity and a tendency to experience negative emotions) is moderately to strongly associated with all of the internalizing disorders, both concurrently and longitudinally. However, researchers have noted the importance and relative dearth of studies that examine associations with more narrow facet-level traits. The current study examines the relations of N/NE facets with six of the internalizing disorders. In addition, associations with four clinical traits related to N/NE (i.e., anxiety sensitivity, experiential avoidance, perfectionism, and intolerance of uncertainty) will be examined. Self-report and clinical interview data will be collected from a college student sample (= 350) and a psychiatric outpatient sample (= 250), with multiple measures of each internalizing disorder and personality trait described above. Structural equation modeling will be used to remove shared variance among the six disorders and among the traits, allowing for the examination of relations among the unique variances of each construct. These results may lead to a better understanding of which clinical traits and which specific components of N/NE are associated with the internalizing disorders, potentially improving differential assessment, foci of treatment, and knowledge of etiological sources.

Ashley Johnson, Binghamton University
Attention biases in children with depression
Advisor: Brandon Gibb, Ph.D.
According to cognitive theories of depression, information processing biases are theorized to contribute to the development and maintenance of depression in both adults and children (for reviews see, Jacobs et al., 2008; Mathews & MacLeod, 2005). Although there is growing evidence to support the presence of attentional biases in depression, there are several key limitations of existing research. In seeking to address these limitations, the current study aims to extend previous findings of attentional biases in depressed adults by assessing similar biases in depressed children. In addition, the proposed project will focus on the direct assessment of attentional allocation using eye tracking technology as well as the more traditional response time data to allow for a more precise quantification of attention and for a comparison of the two methodologies. Additionally, the study will combine eye tracking with a task designed to specifically assess the hypothesized difficulty disengaging attention, and a more naturalistic passive viewing task to investigate the generalizability of past attention biases findings.

Lisa Talbot, University of California-Berkeley
The relationship between sleep and affect in bipolar disorder and insomnia
Advisor: Allison Harvey, Ph.D.
Accruing evidence in healthy individuals suggests that disturbed sleep has adverse consequences on daytime affective functioning (e.g., Yoo et al., 2007). Moreover, sleep and affect are important across psychiatric disorders (e.g., Benca et al., 1997). A bidirectional relationship has been proposed whereby disruptions in nighttime sleep and daytime affect may be mutually reinforcing (e.g., Harvey, 2008, Wehr et al., 1987). The present study examines this potential bidirectional sleep-affect relationship in individuals with interepisode bipolar disorder (= 49), individuals with insomnia (= 34), and individuals with no psychiatric history (= 52) using experience sampling methodology. Eligible participants completed seven days of time-locked sleep diaries upon waking and affect measures upon waking and at bedtime. Three hypotheses will be tested. First, I predict that the bipolar and insomnia groups will exhibit more sleep disturbance and greater sleep variability than the control group. Second, I hypothesize that there will be differences in daytime affect parameters and variability across the groups. Specifically, I predict: (a) the bipolar group will exhibit higher levels of positive affect compared to the insomnia and control groups (b) the insomnia group will demonstrate higher levels of negative affect compared to the bipolar and control groups; and (c) the bipolar affect variability will be greater than the insomnia affect variability, which in turn will be greater than the control variability. Finally, I predict that there will be a bidirectional sleep-affect association in all groups, but that the relationship will be stronger in the psychiatric disorder groups and that the strength of the effects will depend on valence. Specifically, I hypothesize: (a) previous evening positive affect will predict greater subsequent sleep disturbance in the bipolar group, relative to the insomnia and control groups, while previous evening negative affect will predict greater subsequent sleep disturbance in the insomnia group, relative to the bipolar and control groups; and (b) sleep disturbance will predict greater next morning positive affect in the bipolar group, relative to the insomnia and control groups, while sleep disturbance will predict greater next morning negative affect in the insomnia group, relative to the bipolar and control groups. Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) will be employed to illustrate the temporal relationships between sleep and affect across the three groups (e.g., Bryk & Raudenbush, 1992). Advances in the understanding of the specific relationships between sleep and affect could yield important information for the development of sleep disturbance interventions for individuals with disorders characterized by affect impairment.

Jennifer Veilleux, University of Illinois- Chicago
Affective chronometry of cue-induced cigarette craving
Advisor: Jon Kassel, Ph.D.
A recent model of craving, the elaborated intrusion model of desire (Kavanaugh, Andrade & May, 2005), suggests that an initial experience of positive affect will give way to negative affect when the individual notes an internal sense of deficit.  However, cigarette craving studies that measure affect only at a single time point following introduction of a smoking cue likely obscure the dynamic temporal shifts in emotion during craving.  Moreover, because craving is a component of most models of addiction, development of craving is inherent in the transition from increased use to dependence.  Thus, regular users experience higher levels of craving compared to light users (e.g. tobacco “chippers”), and should also experience a different pattern of dynamic emotional responses to cigarette cues due to a stronger sense of deficit.  The proposed study will utilize multilevel modeling to compare a sample of dependent smokers with tobacco chippers on emotional responses to smoking and emotionally laden cues.  Participants will provide continuous ratings of positivity and negativity (Larsen et al., 2009) as they view positive, negative, neutral and smoking-related pictures.  It is predicted that regular smokers will exhibit a higher initial level of positivity that will decrease steeply during smoking cue exposure, whereas negativity will increase throughout cue viewing.  Chippers are predicted to maintain relatively stable levels of positivity and negativity throughout cue exposure.  Importantly, dynamic emotional responses (e.g. strength of positive affect decline) will be investigated as predictors of smoking behavior (smoking topography, impulsivity when a cigarette is available).

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