In this application for a Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K-23), the candidate proposes to develop expertise in the study of emotion regulation among elders with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). The research component of this application focuses on the effectiveness of two conscious emotion regulation strategies - reappraisal and distraction - in modulating positive and negative affect in individuals age 65+with or without MDD. Effectiveness will be assessed using both behavioral and neuroimaging experimental techniques. The candidate training plan involves focused, mentored training aimed at integrating: 1) The study of emotion regulation;2) Etiology, symptoms, and course of late-life MDD;3) Neurocognitive contributions to emotion regulation;and 4) The use of basic experimental data to inform treatment development. To establish a career as a productive and independent investigator with a specialty in the mechanisms of emotion regulation in late-life MDD, the applicant is seeking support to obtain training in the disciplines listed above. This proposal is based on the hypothesis that despite neurologically-based changes in emotion regulation abilities associated with both normal aging and MDD, structured training in emotion regulation techniques can help to ameliorate negative affect associated with external and internal stressors in this population. Building upon the training outlined in this award proposal, the candidate will undertake a set of behavioral and fMRI-based studies to investigate both the neural mechanisms underlying emotion regulation as well as the effectiveness of specific emotion regulation strategies in older adults with MDD. A follow-up study will examine the relationship between emotion regulation abilities and both cognitive and symptom status one year after testing. This translational research program will extend existing knowledge by innovatively integrating work in basic emotions, geriatrics, and psychopathology. In addition to helping establish the candidate's career in the study of emotion regulation in affective disorders, this line of research has the potential to inform improved and novel interventions for late-life MDD.
MDD is a costly and burdensome condition that affects a significant proportion of elders. The series of proposed studies will shed light on ways that depressed older adults can manage their negative emotions. The findings of these studies may lead to the future development of psychotherapeutic interventions targeting mood symptoms in late-life MDD.
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