Funding and Awards

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Funded Research Projects

Chana Akins, Ph.D.
Prenatal Cocaine Effects on Sexual Motivation
The broad, long-term objective of the current application is to develop a novel approach to studying the effects of prenatal drugs of abuse on later drug reward and sexual motivation. The novel approach involves utilizing an avian animal model that is precocial, fast-maturing, allows for control of dose, timing of drug exposure, and avoidance of potentially confounding maternal and/or littermate factors associated with the use of rodents.

Michael T. Bardo, Ph.D.
CDART: Center for Drug Abuse Research Translation
CDART consists of a core and four projects.  The central integrated theme of the center is that reward seeking and inhibition are biologically-based personality constructs associated with drug abuse vulnerability and that these constructs are useful in the design of targeted drug abuse prevention messages. 

CDART: Project 1
Project 1 is a laboratory rat model that will be used to determine if individual differences in reward seeking and inhibition are associated with stimulant drug self-administration and mesocorticolimbic cellular processes. 

Novelty, Dopamine and Response to Amphetamine
The overall working hypothesis of this proposal is that exposure to novel environmental stimulation during development decreases responding for nondrug and drug reinforcers during adulthood and that this behavioral change is due, at least in part, to enhanced basal dopamine activity in the mesocorticolimbic reward system.

Ramesh Bhatt, Ph.D.
Development of Perceptual Organization in Infancy
The overall aim of the proposed research is to investigate the origins and development of such perceptual organization abilities in infants. Specifically, we are concerned with the very beginnings of perceptual unit formation and the operation of a variety of organizational principles during the first months of life.

Jessica L. Burris, PhD
Smoking Cessation AFter Cancer Diagnosis
A new cancer diagnosis has the ability to function as a "teachable moment" (i.e., a health event that effectively prompts one to adopt healthier behaviors), but there are a host of factors at play, some of which may limit an individual's ability to sustain health behavior change (e.g., depression, fatalism, pain). With an intensive longitudinal design, this K-award involves an in-depth study of the naturalistic course of changes in tobacco use after a tobacco-related cancer diagnosis as well as the cognitive and affective variables that underlie these changes.

Melody Carswell, Ph.D.
The Smart Image Pipeline
The goal of this proposed research is to continue building a processing pipeline to support the development of smart imagery in surgical environments. We define smart imagery to be image data that goes beyond raw sensor data by incorporating extracted data, data from other sources that can be integrated in a meaningful way, and data that is entirely rendered (as opposed to captured directly from a sensor). Rendered imagery may consist of overlay data from an atlas or pre-operative database, data from disparate sensor sources (CT, MRI and ultrasound registered together with endoscopic imagery), data rendered from novel geometric positions, and data that highlights or enhances information that may not be explicit in the data of any singular sensor. Smart imagery is imagery derived algorithmically from a disparate set of sensors and integrated into a stable, controllable composite that maximizes information flow via the rendered image from the source devices and algorithms to the surgical team that is interpreting the imagery.

Mark Fillmore, Ph.D.
Neurocognitive Consequences of Adolescent Drug Use
The project is designed to identify specific inhibitory-based, neurocognitive deficits associated with a history of adolescent drug use and to examine how this association is mediated by two established adolescent risk factors for substance abuse, ADHD and conduct disorder (CD).

Mechanisms Of Alcohol Tolerance And Priming In Humans
The project is based on the hypothesis that abuse potential of alcohol is determined by its reward-enhancing effects and its disruptive effects on control mechanisms.  Studies examine the effects of controlled doses of alcohol on neurocognitive performance tasks that measure inhibitory and activational aspects of control.  The measures will be studied in relation to alcohol-induced priming of self-administration and in the development of learned alcohol tolerance.

 

Peter Giancola, Ph.D.
Individual Differences in Alcohol-Related Aggression
The purpose of this project is to identify individual difference and contextual factors that place an individual at risk for behaving aggressively when intoxicated and to determine exactly how alcohol intoxication leads to aggression by examining its effects on cognitive and emotional factors.  Recent studies have shown that variables such as low executive cognitive functioning, empathy, and a difficult temperament serve as liability factors for intoxicated aggression.  More recent work has focused on attempting to understand how the redirection of attentional resources affects the alcohol-aggression relation.

Elizabeth Lorch, Ph.D.
The Logic of the Scientific Method in the Fourth Grade
The practical goal of the project is to develop an effective, general intervention for the teaching of the core logic of the scientific method (i e., the "control of variables strategy"). The theoretical goals are to improve our understanding of the contributions to science learning of: (1) direct instruction vs. discovery learning, and (2) constraints on the learning situation.

Cecile Marczinski, Ph.D.
Acute Effects of Alcohol on Behavioral Control and Simulated Driving in Frequent and Infrequent Binge Drinkers
Frequent binge drinking is associated with high rates of impaired driving and myriad alcoholrelated accidents. One potential explanation for the correlation between frequent binge drinking and elevated alcohol-related injury risk is that frequent binge drinkers are generally more impulsive, and subsequently more disinhibited by alcohol compared to infrequent binge drinkers. This research proposal explores this hypothesis and its relevance to impaired driving by examining acute alcohol effects on inhibitory and activational mechanisms of behavioral control, and their relation to simulated driving performance in frequent and infrequent binge drinkers.

 

Richard Milich, Ph.D.
CDART: Project 3
In this project a cohort of students transitioning from high school to college will be used to determine if individual differences in reward seeking and inhibition are associated with the initiation, escalation and/or cessation of drug use in a longitudinal design.

 

Mark Prendergast, Ph.D.
Cholinesterase Inhibitors, Axonal Transport and Memory
The objective of this project is to identify specific relationships between cellular and biochemical manifestations of repeated, subthreshold exposures to OPs and cognitive function in an experimental animal model.

Ethanol Withdrawal and HIV-1 Neurotoxicity
This project looks at the effects of chronic ethanol exposure and withdrawal on neurotoxicity associated with Tat proteins (a viral transcription factor thought to contribute to the development of HIV-associated dementia. 

Suzanne Segerstrom, Ph.D.
Repetitive Thought, Stress and Immunity in Older Adults
The effects of stressors on the immune system are particularly relevant for older adults: Potent stressors such as bereavement become more common with age, immune reactions to stress grow larger with age, and vulnerability to immunological dysregulation and immunologically mediated disease increases with age. Previous studies have linked stressors in old age with increased distress and physiological dysregulation, including depression, high levels of cortisol, poor responses to vaccination, and high levels of the proinflammatory cytokine IL-6. The research will address limitations of the extant literature by focusing on the prospective effects of stressors among older adults and by including individual differences in repetitive thought (RT), that is, the cognitive interpretation and processing of stressful events.

 

Thomas Zentall, Ph.D.
Effect of Prior Effort on Reward Value
We are investigating in animals a social psychological phenomenon that, when found in humans has been called "cognitive dissonance." More specifically, "worth ethic" or "justification of effort," which can be described as the attribution of greater value to rewards that follow greater effort, has been thought to depend on the human need to resolve the dissonance presumably engendered by the exertion of greater effort to obtain comparable rewards. When we find it in animals we attribute it to contrast or the feeling of relief when the reward arrives. This may be an important factor in human justification of effort as well

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