The WELL lab research program supports three neuroscience-based research areas focused on the relationships between affect and cognition in order to understand how these basic building blocks of the mind influence psychological and physical well-being.
BASIC: Neural Correlates of Affect & Cognition
We study the association between positive/negative affect and cognitive function, primarily using electroencephalography (EEG) methods to study the role of the frontocingulate network and other cortical regions involved in affective and cognitive functions. Current projects are focused on understanding the relationship between positive affect (dimensionally ranging from low to high positive affect) and attention (i.e., top-down attentional control, bottom-up attentional control, attentional scope, and attentional biases). Related projects involve studying the links between positive affect and positive psychological constructs such as savoring and empathy. We also study how health behaviors such as physical activity and sleep influence cognition and affect. Addressing these basic psychological science research areas will inform psychopathology and promote well-being in novel ways.
CLINICAL: Depression, Postpartum Depression, and Chronic Pain Disorders
Depression and chronic pain disorders are extremely debilitating conditions that frequently co-occur and disproportionally influence the lives of women and girls. These disorders are often characterized by low levels of positive affect, attentional impairments, somatic (bodily) symptoms, and poor social support. Our research strives to understand the primary contributing psychological and neurobiological factors that confer vulnerability and maintain symptoms in order to work toward identifying and developing effective, affordable, and accessible interventions that directly target and modify these contributing factors.
TRANSLATIONAL: Neurobiological Correlates of Mindfulness-Based Interventions
Many individuals with depression/postpartum depression and chronic pain disorders lack the vitality that is related to savoring, experiencing, and anticipating pleasant events. We are using EEG methods to study how Mindfulness-based interventions enhance positive affect, savoring, and improve attentional functions in individuals who experience high levels of stress.