University of Vermont

Center for Research on Emotion, Stress, and Technology


CREST Projects

Ongoing Projects
  • Trauma Affected Brains (TABi)
    There is strong evidence that maltreatment during childhood results in differences across multiple circuits in the developing brain. The extent that affected circuits are involved in psychopathology, however, is unclear. Determining which circuits are involved is necessary to develop interventions that target specific neurobiological systems. The primary aims of the proposed studies are to clarify the involvement of multiple brain features (e.g., structures and functional activations) in maltreatment-related psychopathology. The first is to use machine learning to develop a model that integrates structural and task-based functional MRI data to differentiate adolescents with a history of maltreatment from controls. Identifying the features that best differentiate these groups will determine which circuits are implicated in maltreatment-related psychopathology. These models will be constructed with data from an existing high-dimensional database that was obtained by project mentors. The second aim is to obtain pilot data on the association between variations in brain regions and the severity of psychopathology in a sample of maltreated adolescents. When this research is completed, the brain features most affected by maltreatment will be identified and the relation between these brain features and observable symptoms will be quantified. Such knowledge will provide a set of targets for treatment and assist in our classification of maltreatment-related mental illness. These aims will be accomplished with machine learning. Machine learning is a set of computer-based learning methods in which meaningful theoretical models are derived from empirical data. This project is funded by a K08 award through the National Institute of Mental Health (PI: Matt Price)
  • Strategic Translational Anxiety Research To Leverage Exposure (STARTLE)
    Anxiety spectrum disorders, including panic disorder, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, and specific phobia, affect approximately one in five adults. Most evidence-based practices for these disorders use exposure, the repeated presentation of a feared stimulus without the feared outcome. Not all who receive exposure, however, respond the same with some individuals responding very well and others having minimal anxiety reduction. The overall goal of the proposed line of research is to develop therapeutic strategies to improve the outcomes of exposure therapy. This specific study will determine if a behavioral prime can facilitate inhibitory learning, which is proposed to be a critical component of exposure therapy. This project is supported by the David H and Beverly A. Barlow Grant from the American Psychological Foundation (PI: Matt Price).
  • Mobile Assessment After Trauma - Pilot (MAAT-P)
    A key component of early intervention after a traumatic event is targeting the first symptoms and concerns. Our knowledge of what symptoms appear on the first and second days after a trauma is limited relative to our knowledge of symptoms that appear during the first and second months after a trauma. The aims of this study are to identify those  initial post-trauma symptoms to tailor post-trauma treatment. To address this challenging issue, we are using mobile applications that can administer brief and regular assessments during the acute trauma period. This project is funded by a REACH grant (PI: Matt Price), NBH Microgrant (PI: Matt Price), and a University of Vermont APLE Award (PI: Hannah Ward).
Active Collaborative Projects

These are projects that are being conducted at other institutions in which CREST is an active collaborator.

  • Connecting Cultures and Technology: Addressing Disparities for Refugees
    Thousands of individuals seek refuge in the United States to escape atrocities of war and torture in their country of origin. An overwhelming majority of these individuals continue to struggle with Chronic Traumatic Stress (CTS), the persistence of prior traumatic events (e.g., re-experiencing past trauma) coupled with daily post-migration stressors (e.g., poverty, lack of transportation). CTS significantly increases the burden of mental illness experienced by refugees such that many meet criteria for a range of disorders . Evidence-based mental health treatments for these conditions rely on worksheets, mobile applications, websites, or telephone calls to facilitate the use of skills and manage distress outside of session. Language barriers (e.g., most refugees have limited English proficiency) prevent these strategies from being incorporated into mental health treatment for refugees, which results in a significant disparity in the quality of care. Treatments delivered via mobile device are able to overcome this barrier through the use of intuitive graphical interfaces that eliminate the need for text or language-based instruction. Culturally adapted mHealth toolkits that address the mental health needs of refugees will reduce a significant disparity in care and is consistent with calls from the National Institutes of Health, World Health Organization, and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. This SBIR Phase I project aims to develop, refine, and pilot an mHealth toolkit aimed at addressing the burden of mental illness in refugees. This project is led by Marguerite Dibble of Gametheory and Karen Fondacaro, and is funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

  • Bounce Back Now: A low-cost intervention to facilitate post-disaster recovery
    Disasters confront individuals with a wide range of stressors, including threat of death or injury, loss of loved ones, limited access to basic needs, and financial strain due to property damage or disruptions in employment. The availability of brief, effective, free, and highly accessible interventions to facilitate personal and community resilience and rapid and sustained recovery is potentially of tremendous value to disaster-affected communities and disaster response agencies. This study will evaluate Bounce Back Now (BBN), a novel, scalable, and highly sustainable technology-based intervention. This is project is being conducted at the Medical University of South Carolina and is led by Dr. Kenneth Ruggiero. CREST is a collaborating partner on the project.
  • Optimal Timing of an Early Intervention to Prevent PTSD
    The overall aim of this project is to determine the optimal dose for the delivery of exposure therapy in the immediate aftermath of trauma for preventing the development of PTSD and depression and related sequelae. This project is being conducted at Emory University by Dr. Barbara Rothbaum. CREST is a collaborating partner on the project.
  • Targeting Memory Reconsolidation to Prevent the Return of Fear in a Pilot RCT
    The overall aim of this project is to establish if targeting the reconsolidation of fear with a nonpharmacological, noninvasive reminder of the fear is effective for human clinical populations in reducing anxiety and return of fear (relapse). This project is being conducted at Emory University by Dr. Barbara Rothbaum. CREST is a collaborating partner on the project.
  • Advancing the Virtual Iraq/Afghanistan PTSD Exposure Therapy System for MST
    The aims of this project are to evaluate the use of virtual reality in the treatment of PTSD for combat veterans who have experienced military sexual trauma. This project is being conducted at Emory University by Dr. Barbara Rothbaum. CREST is a collaborating partner on the project.

Last modified June 21 2017 10:29 PM