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Does stress affect semantic retrieval and the tip-of-the-tongue phenomena?

Who is that guy that played that character in that movie? Everyone believes that stress makes it more difficult to find the word or name that they're looking for, but this has never been tested empirically. That's what we're working on in this series of studies in collaboration with Lori James, Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

Does observing stress in others increase stress in the observer? Does that observed stress influence helping behavior?

When we see someone in pain or under stress we (sometimes) feel bad for them and (sometimes) try to help them. What are the neural and physiological bases for these matching responses and the decision to help others? These are the questions we hope to address in this work in collaboration with Stephanie Preston, Department of Psychology, University of Michigan. This work is funded by the Templeton Foundation's Positive Neuroscience Initiative.

How does stress affect decision making in gambling disorder?

The goal of this work is to clarify the current shift of the perception of gambling disorder from impulse control disorder to an addiction. We will examine the biological stress response of people with gambling disorder and compare it with those who either have no addictions or substance use disorder. Because research has shown that stress responses have been linked to alcohol use disorders, this project could further explain gambling disorder's role as an addictive disorder. This work is done in collaboration with Jeremiah Weinstock's Wellness, Addiction, Gambling, & Exercise Research (WAGER) Lab.

How does stress in college students relate to alcohol consumption and other health behaviors?

Heavy alcohol use and binge drinking episodes occur often among college-aged populations, which is likely influenced by mood disorders and stress levels. Better understanding of the relationships among stress, mood, co-occurring drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual behavior among this population is particularly important in the development of effective
prevention programming and implementation in university settings. Using ecological real-time data collection in tandem with repeated surveys of stress and mood, and cortisol sampling, this project is aimed at better understand the co-occurring relationships among self-reports of stress, stress physiology, and drinking behavior.

This work is a collaboration with Dr. Enbal Shacham of Public Health, and Dr. Michael Goldwasser of Computer Science.


See below for a list of ongoing research projects in the lab.

What influence does life stress have on decision making under stress in older adults?

What is the influence of life stress severity, timing, and type on decision making under stress in older adults? This project examines the utility of different life stress models (i.e., the biological-embedding, cumulative stress, stress sensitization, and mismatch models) in predicting stress physiology and decision making in middle-to-older adulthood. The goals of this project are to: 1) investigate the relationships between life stress and stress physiology (i.e., cortisol reactivity, heart rate variability); 2) understand the interaction between lifetime stress and acute stress on decision making; and 3) explore individual differences in stress physiology and decision making based on specific lifetime stress characteristics.

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