Our mission is to ease suffering caused by mental illness through excellence in research, treatment, education, administration, and service.
In particular our goal is to advance human mental health with regard to the following behaviors and conditions:
- impulse control
- aggressive and suicidal behaviors
- drug and alcohol abuse
- disruption of serotonin function
The Neurobehavioral Research Laboratory and Clinic (NRLC) is primarily focused on examining impulsive behavior across distinct clinical populations.
The NRLC is a team of scientists developing empirically-based preventive interventions for substance use disorders. This scope of this problem requires a holistic approach, which is why our team has incorporated a variety of expertise ranging from basic research to applied sciences to study process of cognition, biological function, and environment. The purpose of studying these processes is to determine how an individual's unique personal characteristics act to either promote or protect them from development of substance use disorders and the frequent co-occurrence of suicidal behaviors. Currently, our research with at-risk children focuses on how processes that we have identified as being clinically related to substance use disorders and suicidal behaviors develop across the critical period of adolescence. In particular, we are seeking to determine:
- how commonly occurring stressful life events in childhood, differences in cognitive processing (e.g., self-regulation), and certain biological susceptibilities (i.e., genetic and chemical markers) each relate to drug use behaviors and suicidality during adolescence.
- how these same risk factors can be used to predict the development of subsequent drug use and suicidal behaviors during adolescence.
- the different developmental pathways to drug use, abuse, and dependence during adolescence, and to identify to what extent cognitive, biological, and environmental risk factors determine these pathways of drug use and suicidality.
Our ultimate goal is to use empirically-derived knowledge to develop preventive and treatment interventions for specific groups of youths with drug-use behaviors. We believe that the type and extent of interventions can be appropriately selected through the systematic consideration of risk factors during adolescent development. More specifically, what we learn clinically from conducting prevention trials in the community will provide information to guide our basic-science investigations. In turn, evidence-based results from these prevention trials will then be used to guide testing and further refinement of increasingly more effective preventive and treatment interventions. In summary, through scientific study of community-based interventions we will not only be able to impact the health and welfare of at-risk youth in the local community; we also will be able to develop more effective interventions that can be adopted nationally.