Research in the lab focuses on the intersection of behavioral and developmental neuroscience. We study brain-behavior relationships across development, and how genes and environmental stress influence these processes. Current research projects in our lab are investigating neurophysiological and behavioral mechanisms related to risk for developing mood-related  and alcohol/substance use problems and the relationship between the two. Most individuals presenting with an alcohol/substance use disorder (A/SUD) also present with one or more comorbid disorders, often a mood disorder. Comorbidity is associated with more severe illness outcomes, than for either mood disorder or A/SUDs alone, ranging from impulsive risk-taking and cognitive deficits, to a higher risk for suicide. This highlights the importance of understanding how this comorbidity develops. While much research has focused on the pathophysiology of addiction and mood disorders, suggesting overlapping neural circuitry, there is a paucity of research investigating the neural mechanisms underlying development of comorbidity. Our research focuses on the development of mood- and alcohol/substance-related behaviors during adolescence/young adulthood, a critical period of development when symptoms of these disorders often emerge. We take a developmental approach, using longitudinal neuroscience paradigms, to identify genes, neurophysiological, environmental, and behavioral predictors of problem behaviors and mechanisms by which predictors translate into adult phenotypes (e.g. suicide and addiction) within and across psychiatric disorders.

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