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Habit Lab
HABIT Laboratory Information

Congratulations to the following: 

Ali Yurasek accepted a NIH/NIDA funded T-32 postdoctoral research fellowship at the Brown University Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies.

Ashley Dennhardt received an NIH-funded postdoctoral research fellowship in the HABIT lab at the University of Memphis.

Ali Yurasek will be completing her predoctoral clinical internship at Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Courtney Peasant will be completing her predoctoral clinical internship at Duke University Medical Center.

Ali Pickover recently had two papers accepted for publication in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

Lidia Meshesha recently had a paper accepted for publication in Addictive Behaviors.

Lechner, W.V., Dahne, J., Chen, K.W., Pickover, A., & Lejuez, C.W. (in press). An examination of   psychotic symptom and substance use disorder comorbidity in an inpatient sample. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 

Ali Yurasek, Ashley Dennhardt and James Murphy recently had a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

Yurasek, A. M., Murphy, J. G., Hum, A. M., Dennhardt, A. A., & MacKillop, J. (in press). Smokers report greater demand for alcohol on a behavioral economic purchase task. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. 

Dr. Jessica R. Skidmore (HABIT lab alumnus and current postdoc at the University of California San Diego) received a NIH loan repayment fellowship.
Welcome to our new HABIT lab Clinical Psychology Doctoral Students Lidia Meshesha and Alison Pickover!

James Murphy, Ashley Dennhardt, and Jessica Skidmore recently had a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Clinical and Consulting Psychology.

Murphy, J. G., Dennhardt, A. A., Skidmore, J. R., Borsari, B., Barnett, N. P., Colby, S. M.& Martens, M. P. (2012). A randomized controlled trial of a behavioral economic supplement to brief motivational interventions for college drinking. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

Ali Yurasek received the NIDA\NIAAA Early Career Travel Award to attend the2012 Psychological Association Convention in Orlando, Florida.

Jessica Skidmore defended her dissertation titled Behavioral Economic Measures of the Reinforcing Efficacy of Alcohol as Indicators of Problem Severity in Young Adults.

Jessica Skidmore received a NIAAA-sponsored T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship at the San Diego VA Medical Center.

Ashley Dennhardt received the Morton Dissertation award.

Ashley will be completing the predoctoral clinical internship at the Memphis VA Medical Center.

Ali Yurasek was awarded a $5,000 grant from the 3rd Millennium Classrooms foundation to evaluate a recently-developed computerized intervention for alcohol abuse.


The HABIT Laboratory conducts research related to addiction and health that is consistent with two primary goals. First, we strive to conduct research that addresses important public health priorities. For example, alcohol abuse among young adults results in thousands of injuries, assaults, and fatalities each year, and can set the stage for a lifelong pattern of alcohol abuse and/or dependence.

We have conducted several controlled clinical trials that have demonstrated that brief interventions incorporating motivational interviewing and personalized drinking feedback can reduce heavy drinking among young adults (including both college students and military veterans). These interventions are now being adopted across the country and are replacing previous models of “alcohol education” that were not efficacious. Recently, we were funded by NIAAA to improve standard brief alcohol intervention by adding a behavioral economic supplement that encouraged engagement in constructive alternatives associated with delayed reinforcement.

Although we are primarily interested in conducting research related to alcohol and drug abuse, we are also interested in studying other health-compromising behaviors such as risky sexual behavior and smoking, as well as health-promoting behaviors such as diet and exercise. Finally, we are interested in understanding how risk factors such as impulsivity, high alcohol demand or reinforcing value, and comorbidity (depression, PTSD) are related to both poor treatment response and the development of chronic substance abuse problems/addiction.

The second overarching goal of the HABIT Laboratory is to conduct applied clinical research that is influenced by basic behavioral and biological research (e.g., translational research) and contributes to the overall goal of improving our scientific understanding of human behavior. For example, we have used behavioral economic theory and basic laboratory research to guide our applied research on substance abuse etiology, assessment, and prevention.

Behavioral economic theory predicts that (1) increasing substance-free sources of reinforcement will reduce substance use, (2) proportional reinforcement from substance use relative to substance-free activities (i.e., relative reinforcing value) is an important index of drug problem severity, and (3) strong preference for immediate versus delayed reinforcement (i.e., delayed reward discounting) may be an important risk factor for addiction.

We are interested in understanding how these behavioral mechanisms contribute to the development of substance abuse, and also in ways in which they can be targeted in novel behavioral interventions.

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Last Updated: 5/21/14