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Recently Awarded Research Grants

Project Title:

Alcohol and Addiction Research Domain Criteria and Alcohol Use Disorder Recovery

Katie Witkiewitz

Project Principal Investigator/s:
Katie Witkiewitz, Ph.D.

Funding Agency:
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Amount Awarded:
$1,398,555

Period of Performance:
04/2019 - 03/2023

Goals and Aims of Study

The alcohol and addiction research domain criteria (AARDoC) has been proposed to provide a framework for understanding the nature of alcohol use disorder (AUD) in terms of psychological and biological constructs that can be traced to a specific behavioral function with an underlying biological basis (e.g., neural dysfunction). The AARDoC proposes that AUD develops, progresses, and is maintained because of heightened incentive salience for alcohol, greater negative emotionality, and/or impairments in executive functioning and impulsivity. This study will build an empirical knowledge base regarding clinical assessments that could be used to identify the AARDoC constructs and will examine whether the AARDoC constructs are associated with a novel typology of alcohol recovery, defined by consumption and functioning, among individuals who receive alcohol treatment.  To achieve the study aims, integrative data analysis of AARDoC constructs among more than 3600 individuals (n = 3,672) who participated in three publicly funded alcohol treatment studies will be examined. This research will examine a broad definition of recovery and prediction of AUD recovery up to 10 years following an AUD treatment episode. 

How this Research Will Benefit Society

This study seeks to gain a better understanding of variability among individuals with alcohol use disorder who are seeking treatment and predictors of recovery from alcohol use disorder.  The results from this study will be directly applicable to clinical practice and future research on AUD treatment and recovery.

Project Title:

A Novel Bench-to-Bedside Translational Model of Anhedonia

James Cavanagh

Project Principal Investigator/s:
Dr. James F. Cavanagh

Funding Agency:
National Institutes of Health/NIMH

Amount Awarded:
$373,519

Period of Performance:
03/2019 - 01/2019

Goals and Aims of Study

The EEG response known as the Reward Positivity is a candidate biomarker specific to value-based deficiencies in anhedonia. The objective of this proposal is to test whether emotion and depressed mood directly diminish the Reward Positivity.  These experiments address a computational function tightly tied to a neural response that directly addresses the disease-specific phenotype in human patients and is capable of being assessed, manipulated, and recovered within a rodent model.

How this Research Will Benefit Society

The successful completion of the aims advanced here will create what we think is the most promising path for combining these strengths into a computationally-inspired, mechanistically tested, translatable model of aberrant valuation in anhedonia.  This novel candidate biomarker will then be translatable between species and testable in an outpatient clinic.

Project Title:

Nexus of Risk: Sexual Assault, Alcohol Use, and Risky Sex among College Women

Project Principal Investigator/s:
Elizabeth Yeater, Ph.D.

Funding Agency:
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Amount Awarded:
$665,994

Period of Performance:
05/2018 - 05/2021

Goals and Aims of Study

This study will use Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) to obtain a better understanding of the contextual determinants of sexual assault, as well as the co-occurrence of victimization, risky sex, and substance use. These findings will inform the development of an Ecological Momentary Intervention (EMI) that will provide college women with personalized feedback about their level of risk for victimization and related adverse events. The effectiveness of EMA/EMI in decreasing rates of sexual assault, risky sexual behavior, and substance use then will be evaluated relative to an EMA-only and an assessment-only control group.

How this Research Will Benefit Society

In spite of the development of numerous preventative interventions aimed at decreasing the prevalence of sexual violence on college campuses, rates of victimization have remained steady over several decades. Moreover, these interventions have been relatively ineffective at changing behavior.EMI may prove to be an effective intervention for college women who are at risk for assault. Because it could be delivered on a smartphone, it would be portable, cost-effective, and easily disseminated to college women and continually available during high-risk times.

Project Title:

Neurocognitive and Neurobehavioral Mechanisms of Change following Psychological Treatment for Alcohol Use Disorder

Project Principal Investigator/s:
Dr. Barbara McCrady

Funding Agency:
NIH/NIAAA

Amount Awarded:
$2,935,546

Period of Performance:
04/2018 - 03/2023

Goals and Aims of Study

Aim 1: To examine hypothesis-driven neurocognitive and behavioral mechanisms of drinking behavior changes following two treatments that will target three hypothesized mechanisms: craving/regulation of craving, cognitive and behavioral control, and regulation of affect/arousal.

Aim 2: To identify baseline characteristics (neurocognitive and behavioral) predictive of reductions in drinking over time and differential patterns of response to Cognitive Behavior Therapy or Mindfulness Based Treatment.

How this Research Will Benefit Society

Gaining an understanding of the mechanisms that lead to successful drinking behavior change during treatment for alcohol use disorders is critical for improving treatment outcomes. The current study will examine behavior change from multiple perspectives including self-report, behavioral performance, and functional neuroimaging within the context of cognitive behavioral treatment or mindfulness based treatment to identify those mechanisms that lead to reductions in drinking. Results from the proposed study may provide key mechanisms that could be targeted in future treatment studies.