Participation in Research

Goals

Current treatments for PTSD are known to have only modest efficacy. In fact, about half of the people with PTSD do not respond to current treatments. This suggests that millions of war veterans, disaster survivors, and trauma exposed civilians may remain symptomatic and thus have a high risk of developing chronic and disabling PTSD, which is frequently coupled with functional impairment and suicidal risk.

In response to this critical gap in scientific knowledge, our research team is focused on developing a new understanding of the neural mechanisms of PTSD, and to use this knowledge in order to enhance the development of targeted, innovative, and more effective PTSD treatments.

Ongoing Projects

 

The Neural Signature of Trauma (IRB #7136)

*No Longer Recruiting Participants

Principal Investigator: Yuval Neria, PhD

Overview of the Study:

People exposed to trauma are at high risk for a range of trauma-related psychopathology. Over one third of exposed individuals are likely to develop significant and disabling psychopathology including: posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), depression and functional impairment. Fear overgeneralization, a difficulty discriminating between safe and dangerous situations, is key among trauma survivors. This ongoing 4-year NIMH-funded study, starting in 2015, proposes to: a) identify the neural signature (a specific pattern of brain activation) of fear overgeneralization by using innovative brain imaging methods (fMRI); and b) examine the use of the identified neural signature to predictfunctional impairment and symptom severity across a number of disorders.

This is not a treatment study. If you qualify to participate, you will be asked to come in to undergo fMRI brain scanning.

The neural correlates of location-specific fear learning in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (IRB#7469)

*Currently Recruiting Participants - Email Aliza Naiman at Aliza.Naiman@nyspi.columbia.edu for more information

Principal Investigator: Benjamin Suarez-Jimenez, PhD

Overview of the Study:

Learning about threat is a necessary survival tool when used in appropriate situations. The purpose of this study is to understand better how the brain learns about threat within an environment. For this study, we use a virtual reality game while inside an fMRI machine. The study is conducted on a one-day visit of approximately 2 hours.

Visual attention in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (IRB#7464)

*Currently Recruiting Participants - Email Aliza Naiman at Aliza.Naiman@nyspi.columbia.edu for more information

Principal Investigator: Amit Lazarov, PhD

Overview of the Study:

Emerging research has demonstrated a relationship between visual attention patterns and anxiety disorders, including PTSD. This study is designed to examine these visual attention patterns using eye-tracking – A simple device that monitors eye-movements. The study included two sessions conducted approximately 1 week apart, each no longer than 1 hour. In both sessions, you will perform a simple computer task while eye-data will be recorded. Session 1 can be conducted inside an MRI or without scanning. Session 2 has no MRI testing.

Attention-Bias Modification Treatment Study for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (IRB#6688)

*No Longer Recruiting Participants

Principal Investigator: Yuval Neria, PhD

Overview of the Study:

Emerging research has demonstrated a relationship between biased attention to threat and the psychological and physiological symptoms of anxiety disorders. Recent findings demonstrate significant associations between attention-bias and stress vulnerability. Attention-bias relates to how people focus their attention; research shows that people with high levels of anxiety tend to focus on negative information in their environment. This work has motivated the development of a novel therapy, attention-bias modification treatment (ABMT). ABMT is designed to modify patients’ threat bias, i.e., change their attentional habits, with the use of a computer program. The present study is a double blind trial that seeks to examine how well ABMT works for individuals with PTSD. Participants with PTSD and attention bias towards or away from threat (documented by the dot probe task) will undergo a 4-week (8-sessions) course of ABMT or an inactive Comparison Training Program (CTP). Attention-bias will be measured before and after treatment.