The goal of the proposed research is to better understand the brain mechanisms that underlie mood constraints on self-evaluative cognition. We propose a novel neuropsychometric approach to this study that attempts to merge the strengths of psychometric measurement (i.e., measurement of mood state) with the temporal sensitivity dense array electroencephalography (dEEG). We also utilize advances in dEEG source analysis in order to contextualize findings in neuroanatomy. This methodology not only aids in the interpretation of results by also enables us to more directly test models of affective and cognitive brain processes that have been suggest in the clinical neuroscience literature. A two-dimensional model of mood (Positive Affect and Negative Affect) is expected to explain differential brain activity in dorsal-medial and ventral-lateral cortical networks related to self-evaluative cognition. The neuropsychometric approach utilizes psychometric properties of single-word descriptors (e.g., calm) to amplify variance in dEEG that is related to Positive Affect or Negative Affect. A weighting statistic is derived for each descriptor item that describes the extent to which the item is associated with the psychometric scale of interest. During brain imaging, healthy, adult participants evaluate the extent to which each word is self- descriptive. Single trials of dEEG are then weighted according to the descriptor's association with PA and NA, respectively. Averaged data is expected to reflect the central tendency of the psychometric dimensions in neural indices of self-evaluative cognition. Modeled neural source activity will be used to test a model of brain function associated with maladaptive self-evaluation (i.e. depression). This research program is designed to assist the candidate's progress in the early stages of an academic research career. The candidate seeks to better understand the brain basis of psychopathology, and subsequently employ this knowledge in the development and measurement of increasingly efficacious treatments for mood-based psychological disorders.
The proposed research utilizes dEEG technology to investigate mood biases inherent to self-evaluative cognition in healthy adults. We propose a novel neuropsychometric approach that may provide important methodological advances in the study of affective constraint on cognition in the brain. The aim is to identify neural activity specific to mood biased, self-evaluative processes in the healthy brain. Results may suggest a model of brain function that can be associated with key symptoms of clinical depression.
|Waters, Allison C; Tucker, Don M (2016) Principal components of electrocortical activity during self-evaluation indicate depressive symptom severity. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 11:1335-43|
|Waters, Allison C; Tucker, Don M (2013) Positive and negative affect in adolescent self-evaluation: psychometric information in single trials used to generate dimension-specific ERPs and neural source models. Psychophysiology 50:538-49|
|Waters, Allison M; Pittaway, Michelle; Mogg, Karin et al. (2013) Attention training towards positive stimuli in clinically anxious children. Dev Cogn Neurosci 4:77-84|