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Opportunities to Participate in Research Conducted by the Biometrics Research Program

This page lists a number of projects currently going on in the lab and how to become involved in them.

Physiological and Neuroimaging Assessment of Emotional Information Processing in Depression
Background - Why is this research being conducted?
For years, researchers and clinicians have known that depressed individuals "ruminate" (i.e., think about negative things over and over). Rumination has been linked to more frequent and prolonged episodes of depression, as well as delayed recovery in treatment. Yet, treatments for depression that target rumination have rarely been considered. Some reasons are that no good formal definition of rumination exists, there is no accepted way to measure it, it is unclear which depressed people are prone to ruminate, and it is unclear what brain mechanisms are responsible for rumination in depression.
     This research is an attempt to provide preliminary data necessary for developing interventions for depression that target rumination. It is specifically designed to measure what rumination is, to find out which subgroups of depressed individuals are likely to ruminate, to establish easy, reliable, valid ways of measuring rumination, and to understand brain mechanisms associated with rumination.

Methods used to assess rumination include filling out questionnaires, measurement of pupil dilation (reflects brain processes associated with performing cognitive tasks), measurement of activity in muscles on the face (electromyography; EMG’s), and measurement of brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Description of research -- What will happen to people who participate?
Individuals who participate in this research will undergo the following procedures. The first visit is a psychiatric screening; participants will be asked about their symptoms. At a second visit participants will be asked a series of questions about their mood, and how they cope with emotional thoughts and events. Electrodes may be applied temporarily to their face so that changes in muscle activity can be monitored. They will be asked to sit still with their chin in a chin rest so a camera can record changes in their pupil while they do attention tasks. The tasks involve pressing buttons in response to emotional and non-emotional words or sentences. In a third visit they will repeat these tasks either during measurement of pupil dilation or fMRI.

Participation in measurement of pupil dilation takes up to 3 ½ hours and pays $30. Participation in a second pupil dilation assessment takes up to 2 hours and pays $30. Participation in measurement of fMRI takes approximately 2 hours and pays $50.

Who can participate
Individuals who have normal corrected vision and who are currently depressed, have no recent history of substance abuse or dependence (past 6 months), have no psychotic symptoms, have never had a manic episode, and who are currently unmedicated may participate. Depressed individuals on medications other than tricyclics and Nefazadone may also be eligible. Individuals who are not currently depressed, have no history of mood disorder, who do not have a family history of depression may also participate as control participants. Individuals who have metal implants in their body, or who have a heart condition or are pregnant may not participate in the fMRI component of the experiment, but may participate in the other components.

For more information
More information about the study can be obtained from the principal investigator, Greg Siegle, Ph.D. Dr. Siegle can be reached using any of the following methods:
phone: 412-365-5238
fax: 412-365-5259

Potential research subjects can contact the Roma Konecky, B.A., the project coordinator at:
phone: 412-365-5049
fax: 412-365-5259

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The Psycholinguistics Lab

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Program in Cognitive Affective Neuroscience (PICAN)

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