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October 2016 Newsletter
October is World Mental Health Month, and this month our lab is shining the spotlight on two key research areas: 1) personality and cognitive factors in reducing the risk of developing alcohol use disorders, and 2) the role of mobile devices on infant-caregiver interactions. Below you will find recent publications and presentations on our research studies. 

We hope you find the information in this newsletter useful, and if you would like to get in touch, feel free to reach out to us on any of the social media channels listed below.

To participate in any of our research studies, please contact the Emotion Regulation Lab at (212) 650-3878 or via our Website Contact Form for inquiries on participation in our active studies. 

—The Emotion Regulation Lab at Hunter College, Department of Psychology
Project Highlights, Publications and Recent Presentations
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Personality and Cognitive Factors in Alcohol Craving and Risk for Alcohol Use Disorders

Challenge & Background:
Attention bias modification (ABM) has been shown to successfully change how drinkers pay attention to information about alcohol, which may directly reduce problem drinking. However, very little research has focused on how more implicit and unconscious factors influence decisions about alcohol consumption.

What we hope to find out:
To address this question, my research team at the Emotion Regulation Lab is currently examining the interplay among personality factors, patterns of attending to and processing alcohol-related information, alcohol craving, and risk of developing alcohol use disorders in young adults. For more details on this study, click here.

Favorable associations with alcohol and impaired self-regulation: A behavioral economic analysis

We recently published study combining behavioral economic measures of drinking decisions with computerized measures of impulsivity and implicit beliefs about alcohol. The results suggest that healthy young adults who have favorable attitudes toward alcohol, together with elevated impulsivity, have an increased likelihood of deciding to drink. Read more here.

The Manipulation of Attentional Biases in a Sample of Young Adult Social Drinkers

We recently presented a poster on attentional bias modification (ABM) in a sample of young adult social drinkers, where drinkers were trained to ignore alcohol related stimuli, and re-allocate their resources to neutral stimuli. This study found that a brief single session of ABM training was successfully able to affect the salience of alcohol-related stimuli.

Full citation:

Luehring-Jones, P., Dennis-Tiwary, T., Louis, C., Erblich, J. (June 2016). The Manipulation of Attentional Biases in a sample of Young Adult Social Drinkers. Poster Presentation at the 39th Annual Research Society on Alcoholism Scientific Meeting, New Orleans, LA

A Biobehavioral Study of Attentional Bias Modification (ABM) for Alcohol

Last month, we presented a research poster focusing on changes in the brain's attentional responses after ABM training. We did not find a difference in the brain's response toward alcohol images after training. However, we did find that those whose brains' responded more to alcohol related images were more likely to also exhibit avoidant thoughts toward them. 

Full citation:

Louis, C., Luehring-Jones, P., Dennis-Tiwary, T., Erblich, J. (September 2016). A Biobehavioral Study of Attentional Bias Modification for Alcohol. Poster Presentation at the 56th Annual Meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research, Minneapolis, MN

Image from Sally Anscombe/Flickr Select/Getty Images

Mobile Devices and Child Socio-Emotional Functioning: An Evaluation with the Still Face Task

Challenge & Background:
While mobile devices have become increasingly prevalent in today’s society, their impact on infant and child development is not yet well understood. Traditionally, the Still Face Experiment has been used to asses infant-caregiver interactions when the caregiver is not responsive, and has been used to understand how disruptions in the caregiver-child relationship influence child adjustment. 
What we hope to find out:
Working with colleagues at the Pennsylvania State University, we use the Still Face Experiment to evaluate the social and emotional responses of infants to parents who are unresponsive due to their engagement with their own mobile devices. Our goal is to expand our understanding of whether mobile devices have a negative impact on infant-caregiver interactions. For more details on this study, click here.

The Still Face with Mobile Devices: Impact of Maternal Device Use on Child Social-Emotional Functioning

The Still Face Experiment observed that children experience an increase in negative emotions and difficulty reengaging with parents after failure to successfully interact with an unresponsive parent. Along with colleagues at Penn State University, we found using cell phones as an analogy to the traditional Still Face Experiment, produces the same outcomes in infants. These preliminary findings may help extend our comprehension of the role of mobile devices on infant-caregiver interactions.

Full citation:

Gulyayeva, O., Babkirk, S., Louis, C., Brown, K., Perez-Edgar., Buss, K, Dennis-Tiwary, T. (May, 2016). The Still Face with Mobile Devices: Impact of Maternal Device Use on Child Social-Emotional Functioning. Poster presentation at the Association for Psychological Science’s 28th Annual Convention, Chicago, IL

Personal Zen

Coming Soon: Updated Personal Zen App - including Android version

The Personal Zen team are currently reviewing all user feedback on the app and a major update is in the works. This new and improved version will feature enhancements to the user experience and will also be available on Android early next year.

Click here to receive updates on Personal Zen.
Media Coverage & Events

Digital Trends: Tech wrecked our bodies, but next it will make us healthier than ever

Dr.Tracy Dennis-Tiwary was recently interviewed by Digital Trends for the article "Tech wrecked our bodies, but next it will make us healthier than ever". She spoke about how technology can help promote physical and mental health, but it may not be enough. Read more here.
Books We're Reading
Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus: How Growth Became the Enemy of Prosperity

New technologies are developed not for the betterment of humanity; but to maximize growth of speculative Wall St market place. In his latest book, Douglas Rushkoff provides a critical vocabulary for our economic moment and a nuanced portrait of humans and commerce at critical crossroads. Read more from Amazon here.
Moths to the Flame: The Seductions of Computer Technology 

In Moths to the Flame, Rawlins takes us on a humorous yet thought-provoking tour of the world wrought by modern technology...His stories and anecdotes enliven and surprise us while increasing our awareness of technology itself as a player in the political and commercial climate of our times... Read more here.
Our Director
Dr. Tracy Dennis-Tiwary is a Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Emotion Regulation Lab at Hunter College of the City University of New York. She is also Co-Director of the Hunter College Stress, Anxiety, and Resilience Research Center. More recently, Tracy founded Personal Zen, a scientifically-validated mobile app for reducing stress and anxiety.

Tracy’s mission is to understand the fundamental role of emotions in mental health, and to transform breakthrough science into engaging digital tools that elevate mental wellness and that bridge the gap between mental health needs and solutions. More about Tracy here.
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Copyright © 2016 Tracy Dennis-Tiwary, All rights reserved.

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