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ADHD  |  Behavioral activation treatment |  Behavioral economics | Developmental science | Disparities research | Neuroimaging Nicotine Dependence |  Risk taking | Smoking cessation | Task Downloads



One of the signature lines of research at CAPER is aimed at understanding why individuals take risks. These efforts are highlighted by a ten-year longitudinal study that seeks to develop and validate “games” in a controlled laboratory setting that can be used to study how and why youth make risky choices across the challenging period of adolescence. One game, the Balloon Analogue Risk Task (BART; see picture above), is considered to be a gold standard assessment measure and is the primary game used in our longitudinal study. Additionally, we have been to supplement our studies with the addition of genetic and neighborhood level assessments to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the multi-level factors impacting risky choices.


  • Click here to read an article from Outside Magazine on the neuroscience of high risk adventure seekers featuring skiing and B.A.S.E. jumping superstar Ted Davenport taking the BART in the fMRI scanner.
  • Click here to read a piece in The Opinion Pages of the NY Times Sunday Review applying basic principles of judgement and choice research to understand why smokers continue to smoke. The piece features Dr. Lejuez’s research with the BART.



  1. Behavioral Technologies for Predicting HIV Risk
  2. Behavioral Measurement of Negative Reinforcement in Adolescent Alcohol Use/Abuse


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. MacPherson, L. M., Calvin, N. T., Richards, J. M., Guller, L., Mayes, L., Crowley, M., DaughtersB., & Lejuez, C. W. (2012). Development and preliminary validation of a behavioral task of negative reinforcement underlying risk taking and its relation to problem alcohol use in college freshman. Alcoholism: → Clinical and Experimental Research, 36, 950-957. doi:10.1111/j.1530-0277.2011.01703.x. PMCID: PMC3349772.
    → Click here for the article.
  3. Amstadter, A. B., MacPherson, L., Wang, F., Banducci-Barker, Reynolds, E. K., PotenzaM. N., Gelernter, J., & Lejuez, C. W. (2012). The relationship between risk-taking propensity and the COMT Val158Met polymorphism among early adolescents as a function of sex. Journal of Psychiatric Research46, 940-945. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychires.2012.04.010. PMCID: PMC3687344.
    → Click here for the article.
  4. Reynolds, E. K., MacPherson, L., Schwartz, S., Fox, N. A., & Lejuez, C. W. (in press). Analogue study of peer influence on risk-taking behavior in older adolescents. Prevention Science. (Published online before print). PMCID: PMC3984373.
    → Click here for the article.