Emotions convey important information about events and people in our environment. They motivate us and are essential to survival (e.g., fear motivates a fight or flight response). However, when an emotional response is not well-matched to the situation (e.g., the sound of a car backfiring elicits fear), it ceases to be adaptive, and may hinder a person’s ability to function effectively in society. People with anxiety and depression struggle with emotional responses more than others. Why is this and how can we best help these individuals?
Work in the Multimethod Affect and Cognition (MAC) lab uses brain and psychophysiological measures such as event-related potentials (ERPs), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), eyeblink startle and skin conductance response to investigate emotions in psychiatric health and disease. One aim of this work to characterize the parameters of emotional response and the cognitive factors that can affect this in healthy individuals. Another aim of this work is to better understand how these factors go awry in psychiatric disorders. The long-term goal of this research is to reduce the cost and suffering associated with emotional disorders (e.g., anxiety, depression) by improving diagnosis and guiding new treatments.
MacNamara, A., Jackson, T. B.ǂ, Fitzgerald, J. M.ǂ, Hajcak, G. & Phan, K. L. (2019). Working memory load and negative picture processing: Neural and behavioral associations with panic, social anxiety and positive affect. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, 4: 151-159.
MacNamara, A. & Barley, B. ¥, (2018). Event-related potentials to threat of predictable and unpredictable shock. Psychophysiology, 55(10): e13206.
MacNamara, A. (2018). In the Mind’s Eye: The late positive potential to negative and neutral mental imagery and intolerance of uncertainty. Psychophysiology, 55(5): e13024.
MacNamara, A., Rabinak, C. A., Kennedy, A. E., & Phan, K. L. (2018). Convergence of fMRI and ERP measures of emotional face processing. Psychophysiology, 55(2): e12988.
Goldschmidt, A.B., Dickstein, D.P., MacNamara, A., Phan, K.L., O’Brien, S., Le Grange, D., Fisher, J.O., & Keedy, S. (2018). A pilot study of neural correlates of loss of control eating in children with overweight/obesity: Probing intermittent access to food as a means of eliciting disinhibited eating. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 43(8): 846–855.
Waszczuk, M. A., Zimmerman, M., Ruggero, C. J., Li, K., MacNamara, A., Weinberg, A., Hajcak, G., Watson, D. & Kotov, R. (2017). What do clinicians treat: diagnoses or symptoms? The incremental validity of a symptom-based, dimensional characterization of emotional disorders in predicting medication prescription patterns. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 79: 80-88.
MacNamara, A., Klumpp, H., Kennedy, A. E., Langenecker, S. A. & Phan, K. L. (2017). Transdiagnostic neural correlates of affective face processing in anxiety and depression. Depression and Anxiety, 34(7): 621-631.
Fitzgerald, J. M., MacNamara, A., Kennedy, A. E., Rabinak, C. A., Rauch, S. A. M., Liberzon, I. & Phan, K. L. (2017). Individual Differences in Cognitive Reappraisal Use and Emotion Regulatory Brain Function in Combat-Exposed Veterans with and without PTSD. Depression and Anxiety, 34(1): 79-88.
Stange, J. P., MacNamara, A., Barnas, O. ǂ, Kennedy, A. E., Hajcak, G., Phan, K. L., & Klumpp, H. (2017). Neural Markers of Attention to Aversive Pictures Predict Response to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Anxiety and Depression. Biological Psychology, 123: 269-277.
Xing, M., Tadayonnejad, R., MacNamara, A., Ajilore, O., DiGangi, J., Phan, K. L., Leow, A. & Klumpp, H. (2017). Resting-State Theta Band Connectivity and Graph Analysis in Generalized Social Anxiety Disorder. Neuroimage: Clinical, 13: 24-32.