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The neuroimaging research at CAPER attempts to examine the neural correlates of emotion, personality, and addiction including the complex inter-relations among these variables.

One ongoing NIDA-funded study led by Kristen Hamilton uses a longitudinal design to examine the neural correlates of choice impulsivity behavior in adolescents as they develop from the ages of 14 to 19. This study will investigate whether levels of choice impulsivity and its underlying neurobiology change during development, and whether they predict real-life risk behaviors, such as substance use and risky sex (K99-DA038589-01A1).

An upcoming study led by Sarah Helfinstein will focus on Encoding Social Information about Risky Decisions. This project will investigate the ways in which individuals use information about others’ risk-taking behavior to inform their own risky decisions. Assessments will target how information about others’ risk-taking is encoded in the brain and the mechanisms through which it is incorporated into the decision-making process.

A third study utilizing EEG is led by Ed Bernat (R03-DA034718-01A1).  This project involves assessment for selective change in salience and control functional network activity as substance dependent adolescent patients engage in targeted outpatient treatment approaches.  Aims include assessment of a salience/control imbalance hypothesized to drive dysregulated behavior involved in substance dependence, as well has how this imbalance may be changed through treatment.


  1. NIH K99 DA038589-01A1: Impulsivity and Risk-taking in Youth: Prospective Behavioral and Neural Assessment
  2. NIH R03 DA034718-01A1: EEG/ERP Risk Markers as Predictors and Outcomes of SUD Treatment in Adolescents


Selected Papers

  1. Lejuez, C. W., Read, J. P., Kahler, C. W., Richards, J. B., Ramsey, S. E., Stuart, G. L., Strong, D. R., & Brown, R. A. (2002). Evaluation of a behavioral measure of risk-taking: The Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART). Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied8, 75-84.
    → Click here for the article.
  2. Helfinstein, S. M., Schonberg, T., Congdon, E., Karlsgodt, K. H., Mumford, J. A., Sabb, F. W., Cannon, T. D., London, E. D., Bilder, R. M., & Poldrack, R. A. (2014). Predicting risky choices from brain activity patterns. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 2470-2475.
    → Click here for the article.
  3. Hamilton, K.R., Ansell, E.B., Reynolds, B., Potenza, M.N., & Sinha, R. (2013).  Self-reported impulsivity, but not behavioral choice or response impulsivity, mediates the effect of stress on drinking behavior.  Stress16(1): 3–15.  PMID:  22376044
    → Click here for the article.
  4. Bernat, E. M., Nelson, L. D., Steele, V., Gehring, W.J., & Patrick, C. J. (2011). Externalizing psychopathology and gain/loss feedback in a simulated gambling task: Dissociable components of brain response revealed by time-frequency analysis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology120(2), 352-364.
    → Click here for the article.